Murder by Suicide… This is a real thing, rarely talked about. But, it is serious… and can be lethal. It happens when an abuser uses all manner of psychological, and emotional, persuasion tactics to push the victim to commit suicide. Sometimes, it’s referred to as simply “being bullied to death”. But, the fact of the matter is… it is far more sinister than that.
I can remember, during the worst time in my marriage, the abuse had escalated to an all-time high. I was sleep-deprived, emotionally raw, and my health was in a serious and rapid state of decline. My body was in permanent survival mode. And, that is when my ex began, what I now call, “The Suicide Campaign”.
At this point, I’d already been in the relationship for around 7 years…maybe closer to 8 (My ability to reference an exact time-line is pretty much non-existent). I had already been worn down quite a bit. I was always on edge. Panicky. Depressed. Isolated. Miserable.
The gaslighting had become almost constant. Then, one day, my ex started making new kinds of comments. Subtly, at first. So subtly, in fact, that I can’t seem to remember when he first started doing it. Thinking back, I now wonder how long had my ex been slipping in these lethal little suggestions, before I consciously noticed them?
They were little remarks… about my depressed mood, or my “mental disorders”. Repeated concerns for my “mental stability” and, his rising fear that I might harm myself one day. Just like any other form of abuse, it started off subtle… a off-handed remark here and there…but, rather quickly, it started to seem as though these topics became the center of every conversation. Then, things escalated even more.
My ex would behave in the cruelest ways… for days on end. I tried so hard to ignore it, or deal with his behavior productively… the very definition of “an effort in futility”. Not to mention, the more I resisted reacting to his abuse- the more he would go to extremes to hurt me. But, the moment I broke down- the moment I simply could not take one more moment of it- he would begin an Oscar-worthy performance of shock, concern and devotion.
He would act as though my “sudden, out of blue” pain was disturbing. He would pretend that the previous days of cruelty NEVER HAPPEND… as though they were a figment of my troubled mind. He‘d sit by my bedside, now the very picture of a ”loving & devoted husband“, talking to me in a way that clearly demonstrated he was “afraid I might try to hurt myself”.
The hints, and the implications, that he would repeat to me, again and again, all had ONE clear message: “You are crazy. You want to die.“
And, I almost believed him.
I later found out that, during these times (when I’d been mostly sleeping, or crying in bed), he had always managed to text a family member or friend. The texts were all pretty much the same. The gist: “I don’t know what to do. My wife is going completely crazy. She‘s scaring me but, I don’t know what she might do if I leave her alone.”
And, it was only when I discovered those texts that the fullness of what he was doing hit me. Like a ton of bricks. While I always knew my ex was never expressing any real care, or concern, I chalked it all up to his usually gaslighting. I can’t pretend that my blood didn’t turn a little cold when I finally put it all together… that his little remarks, and comments… those perfectly timed texts to friends….
He had been giving me instructions. And, creating his alibi.