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What constitutes abuse?


How to leave an abusive relationshi...
How to leave an abusive relationship and why it's so hard

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As a child I was physically abused by my father- i have been through therapy for years and years- working on issues as a result of that abuse.

 

I had been in a relationship about 5 years ago -it was the end of that relationship that brought me here to ENA.

 

well.. i'm back in counseling again because i am now in a relationship with a good man .. and i am having a hard time with a lot of things based on my issues with my father and that previos relationship.

 

For all this time, i thought that i was abused in that past relationship- but i'm realizing that i may have provoked a lot of what happened.

 

When we would fight i would throw things, kick things... i would go at him and pound my fist in his chest, i wouldn't let him leave when he wanted to "cool off" .. i would grab his shirt and yell and curse and scream- i'm embarrassed to even write any of this about myself- i hate thats what i did... i carry a lot of shame.

 

is it possible to provoke someone - was it abuse if i was coming at him - that he never once put his hands to me.. unless it was in defense or i brought him to the point of complete and utter frustration.

 

In counseling i'm working through that right now- taking responsibility for my actions but i also don't want to be in denial of what occurred.. i'm always afraid i'm going to miss the signs...so i become hyper red flag...

 

so i just wanted other peoples opinions - is it "abuse" if one person provokes another person by coming at them... and the other person retaliates .. i KNOW that means that relationship is probably not healthy and the two people shouldn't be together- but does it constitute abuse?

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It probably wasn't abuse if he was essentially defending himself.

 

But if he carried it beyond self-defence and simple retaliation to the point where he was beating you when you were defenseless - then that went from self-defence to abuse.

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i agree with DN. i am sorry that you are going through this, but you are a very very smart person and i look up to all the advice you have given to me and to others here.

you will pull through this. And you deserve a good person because i sense that you sincerely are trying to fix this.

dont lose hope!

 

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I was physically and emotionally abused by my father as well. I know how hard it is to confront these things. I, like you, have seen patterns in myself that I am trying to change. As for your previous relationship, I would say that he was defending himself more than anything. It may be hard to accept that you were the abuser in that sense...

 

Keep going over these things with your therapist. From my experience, my therapist has helping me grow and work on changing my bad patterns. All you can do is look forward!

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ii sense that you sincerely are trying to fix this.

dont lose hope!

 

 

i really am trying to fix this... i get so worried all the time that i'm being abused.. i'm red flag happy - i makes things worse because i always go into this "victim" role instead of realizing where my responsibility lies- especially when arguing with my fiance ... we can have a normal fight- he could go in the other room- just to get his thoughts together.. just to calm down... and i'll be in the other room with my mind racing...

 

"he should be in here talking to me.. he knows i'm upset.. what kind of a person just ignores someone when they are upset.. how can he be ok that i'm out here crying and he doesn't care!"

 

then i go in the room and say something stupid like " you don't care! how can you just sit here" ...

 

and he'll say through clenched teeth .."let. me. get. my. head. together."

 

i walk out of the room crying .. and i think he's being mean or hurtful. When all he is doing is gathering his thoughts so he can talk to me.

 

I guess i just never learned what a real argument was because things were always so explosive in my house growing up- that i can't tell the difference between someone being angry and someone being hurtful- i don't know if that makes sense or not.

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i really am trying to fix this... i get so worried all the time that i'm being abused.. i'm red flag happy - i makes things worse because i always go into this "victim" role instead of realizing where my responsibility lies-

 

 

i know what you mean by this. from my past abusive relationship i tend to try and see red flags that i irrationally think will lead to the abusive behavior that i experienced in the past.

in my mind i make sense, but logically in hindsight i am trigger happy and very afraid to get caught going down that road again.

 

Its like i am petrified of being a victim again, so i react with venom to situations that i percieve as threatening or 'going in that direction'

so in a sense i always have one foot out the door. which is bad.

 

i'm going back to my psychologist because of this.

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I have a real problem with this too. My husband does the same thing, but usually leaves the house to clear his head. It makes me crazy. I've come to realize that it's not because he's being mean but because he doesn't WANT to say or do anything he will regret.

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can you give me an example of what you mean by this?
Well, if you go at him and start hitting him there are two reactions that would not really be abuse. One is to try to stop you and that may mean holding your hands or arms and causing some sort of bruising. If you were to hit him and hurt him a normal reaction would be to hit back - and that might cause damage too. But he is reacting - not acting from nowhere.

 

If the altercation develops and he starts winning - then keeps hitting you when you can't hit back or he wants to cause damage and injuries out of all proportion to what is a normal reaction that would be abuse.

 

It would be abuse if he stayed in an argument and escalated it knowing you would be likely to attack him so he could beat you and win.

 

Basically - it depends what his motivation is. If he is trying to avoid you or defending or reacting out of pain - then that is not abuse. But once it gets to outright revenge, or he starts enjoying hurting you - then that would be abuse.

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i

Its like i am petrified of being a victim again, so i react with venom to situations that i percieve as threatening or 'going in that direction'

so in a sense i always have one foot out the door. which is bad.

.

 

 

EQ- you hit the nail on the head right there! that is my problem.. i am SO afraid of being in abusive relationship .. that I perceive EVERYTHING as a threat.

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Just an observation. When trying to learn how to do things differnetly, it sometimes helps to find a role model and emulate their actions, so that you can try to start breaking your own patterns. It feel uncomfortable at first, and can seem like going against the grain, but that's the point of brekaing patterns that have been identified as unhealthy.

 

Perhaps, instead of chasing after someone when tensions rise, you should instead seek space and time to get your thoughts together. Communicate your plan to change your responses in an effort to learn better ways of dealing with your emotions to your fiancee and see how it works.

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Just an observation. When trying to learn how to do things differnetly, it sometimes helps to find a role model and emulate their actions, so that you can try to start breaking your own patterns. It feel uncomfortable at first, and can seem like going against the grain, but that's the point of brekaing patterns that have been identified as unhealthy.

 

Perhaps, instead of chasing after someone when tensions rise, you should instead seek space and time to get your thoughts together. Communicate your plan to change your responses in an effort to learn better ways of dealing with your emotions to your fiancee and see how it works.

 

so what you are saying is to emmulate my fiance's way of handling an argument and create space for myself to think more clearly?

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so what you are saying is to emmulate my fiance's way of handling an argument and create space for myself to think more clearly?
Yes, but it surprising easy to deescalate emotions if you try this breathing exercise when you feel you are about to explode:

 

Breathe in for a count of four

Hold your breath for a count of four

Breathe out for a count of four

Hold for a count of four and repeat as necessary

 

As you get used to the exercise the count of four can be slower.

 

This exercise regulates the heartbeat and therefore the amount of oxygen to the brain, which helps to relieve stress and relax tense muscles - and it helps get control of your emotions.

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so what you are saying is to emmulate my fiance's way of handling an argument and create space for myself to think more clearly?

 

Yes, I'm suggesting trying it out and seeing if anything positive comes of it. More importantly, I am saying try something new and different.

 

I am not saying that his response will be right for you... but until you try new things, you won't know what works for you and what doesn't.

 

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not working...

 

(BTW... congrats on the engagement )

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Thanks!

 

the very strange, ironic thing is that i have left him alone at times to gather his thoughts and when i have left him alone- no kidding .. in 15 minutes he was back in the living room- wrapping his arms around me.. giving me kisses and saying how stupid we were to fight and then he'll talk .. and attempt to resolve the problem and explain himself.

 

that can go either 1 of 2 ways...

 

one way.. i hug him back .. and we laugh ..and then the night goes on as usual...

 

or

 

#2... i'm so "hurt" that he neglected me when i was "upset" .. that i don't want to talk to him and i push him away- and then he's like.. ok suite yourself and goes back in the other room- then i'm all ..."how could you" ..

 

i really sincerely think i have brain damage.

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Thanks!

 

the very strange, ironic thing is that i have left him alone at times to gather his thoughts and when i have left him alone- no kidding .. in 15 minutes he was back in the living room- wrapping his arms around me.. giving me kisses and saying how stupid we were to fight and then he'll talk .. and attempt to resolve the problem and explain himself.

 

that can go either 1 of 2 ways...

 

one way.. i hug him back .. and we laugh ..and then the night goes on as usual...

 

or

 

#2... i'm so "hurt" that he neglected me when i was "upset" .. that i don't want to talk to him and i push him away- and then he's like.. ok suite yourself and goes back in the other room- then i'm all ..."how could you" ..

 

i really sincerely think i have brain damage.

 

Not brain damage...emotional damage. At least you see there's a problem here and you want to work on it. Use the techniques that the others suggested, I'm sure you'll find they help immensly

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EQ- you hit the nail on the head right there! that is my problem.. i am SO afraid of being in abusive relationship .. that I perceive EVERYTHING as a threat.

 

i am at that stage right now. its why me and my SO have 'broken up' twice already. and all it does is make me feel ashamed and guilty.

heehee, so i guess we are both in recovery lol

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No... if you're brain damaged then I'm brain dead.

 

#1 seems to work well for you. You should try sticking to it. If you feel the urge to push him away, then let him know that you are still wrapped up in the argument and need some time alone to let it go. Come back and be constructive. Mutually participate in an effort to build.

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i am at that stage right now. its why me and my SO have 'broken up' twice already. and all it does is make me feel ashamed and guilty.

heehee, so i guess we are both in recovery lol

 

definitely in recovery- or something...

 

and i have done the same thing in the beginning of my relationship with my fiance ..i broke up with him several times because i pulled away and got scared or saw something that i felt as a threat.

 

only to get back with him.

 

I caused him a lot of hurt and confusion by doing that- because now he is afraid that i will run the first sign of a problem. so be careful.. your trigger happy fears my cause more problems then you realize.

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No... if you're brain damaged then I'm brain dead.

 

#1 seems to work well for you. You should try sticking to it. If you feel the urge to push him away, then let him know that you are still wrapped up in the argument and need some time alone to let it go. Come back and be constructive. Mutually participate in an effort to build.

 

any suggestions on how i can keep myself calm and not get so caught up in the hurt, anger and fear?

 

do i need anger management or something?

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definitely in recovery- or something...

 

and i have done the same thing in the beginning of my relationship with my fiance ..i broke up with him several times because i pulled away and got scared or saw something that i felt as a threat.

 

only to get back with him.

 

I caused him a lot of hurt and confusion by doing that- because now he is afraid that i will run the first sign of a problem. so be careful.. your trigger happy fears my cause more problems then you realize.

 

oh i am fully aware of what is happening and has happened now. I have an appointment with my psych on tuesday after work. i am determined not to let this fear destroy the best thing i've ever had.

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oh i am fully aware of what is happening and has happened now. I have an appointment with my psych on tuesday after work. i am determined not to let this fear destroy the best thing i've ever had.

 

 

i'm really glad to hear that because i sensed thats what you were doing when you posted.

 

you sounded EXACTLY like i did... there was NO convincing me that he was a good man- he did "a" and "a" is on my check list of red flags .. there for you are wrong... .. and there is no grey area its BLACK AND WHITE and thats it... and he is wrong.

 

and thats how i see things- you do one thing wrong- that fits my little check list of red flags and i react as such... hurt and angry.

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