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ABUSE and its grey boundaries

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

What is abuse? Well, everyone has an interpretation of where nastiness enters the abuse arena. The law can define abuse as assault but I've never seen a person charged with manipulation which, like many ways of being abused can be traumatic for the victim. So if manipulation, emotional blackmail, silence used as a weapon or withholding children from the other parent is not illegal - is it abuse. It sure is! But not to everyone hence the title of this topic.

For 10 years in a previous relationship my then partner when drunk would, well it was like a switch, get angry then slap my face. I took it "like a man should" I thought, even mentioned it to my GP and he replied "but you're a big boy you can take it". What I didnt consider was what MY boundaries were and that they mattered. My boundaries were that I detest any violence at all be it mental or physical. My one time previous occupation of prison officer had a large bearing on that but my dad also held the same attitude. So why did I tolerate it? Because she was a woman half my weight and the old fashioned belief that men can be punching bags as part of our duties. Wrong!

In violent relationships we are often inflicted by the guilt factor, when our partners twist things around and ignore what we actually believe is wrong. In my case my partner the next morning would say "I slapped you because you weren't listening to me" or "you deserved it because you aren't responsive to my needs and besides I drank a lot because of your bipolar". When I finally moved out I was riddled with guilt that those words echoed in my mind. I had to rebuild my confidence that abuse was what I believed it was, not what the perpetrator believed it wasn't.

We all have blurred lines of what violence is. As humans we have to accept that. But basic right from wrong also includes levels of disrespect that is universally defined.

If you believe you were abused then draw the line in the sand and tell the person of your limits then stand by them. It matters not what any other person in the world believes, it is your boundaries that matter after all, the person inflicting the violence is dealing with you not anyone else.

Finally, if the abuse continues you need to save yourself from it and leave. It sounds daunting but will also be a relief. Then rebuild your life by filling it with hobbies, sports and distractions. A short time later you should, when reflecting back, realise you made the correct decision to save yourself from abuse


18 Replies 18

Community Member

Thank you for that clarity Tony. I found it interesting. The statistics say that the majority of physical abuse is perpetuated by men on women and I have no reason to doubt it.

On the other hand, most experts thing female on male violence is grossly under reported, probably for the reasons you alluded to in your essay.

I hope your wise words help both men and women suffering domestic violence.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi TonyWK,

Thank you for your post - you always come up with interesting things to share on these forums!

Initially when I read the title I was thinking, 'how on earth does abuse have grey boundaries??' but what you said makes total sense. We are all raised differently and believe that some behaviour is okay and other behaviour is not okay - even if it is classified as abuse.

Social abuse might be a classic example, in which the abuser limits the person who they can socialise with. People might see that though as 'just being naturally protective'. I was though shocked at what your GP said and yet it disappoints me so much - both men and women should never have to put up with it. I'm female but yet I know there is still so much stigma still around men being abused by females.

Without jumping on a soapbox, I think that us as a society need to better understand what is actually abuse. I never knew that gaslighting was a thing until I read about it - even intimidation and emotional/psychological abuse. As a kid, I only thought abuse was physical, and now I know how complex and layered it is.

Thanks again for starting this conversation. I think the more that we can talk about it the better things can be.


Hi RT,

Valued comments. This one " I never knew that gaslighting was a thing until I read about it - even intimidation and emotional/psychological abuse. As a kid, I only thought abuse was physical, and now I know how complex and layered it is." struck me as interesting.

I would say I was "gaslighted" by my mother but many aspects of her behaviour was controlling and in particular mirrored all four traits of the characters of this medical condition-


That is the Queen, witch, hermit and waif as concluded by Dr Christine Lawson. Funny about it being abuse because apart from when my mother grabbed my shirt and ripped it her behaviours were never illegal, yet it was abuse. Ruining my first wedding by causing uproar, jealousy acts and manipulation....all legal. Than in such situations like my second wedding approaching in 2011 she threatened it all again 25 years later. That provoked me to take out a court order to ensure my wedding went ahead unhindered. Then of course in many eye I was the culprit.

So that is just one example of psychological abuse and life destroying behaviour that one has to deal with. Once I believed the abuse was indeed abuse (and believe me, totally unprovoked), I could walk tall that I did what was required.

But you are right psychological abuse can be so deeply ingrained that it lives forever. My sister and I have often said "after out mother passes away she will haunt us". The scars are that deep.


Hi TonyWK

Another excellent topic as abuse is a 'grey area' for sure....I didnt have any boundaries at the time when I was punched in the back of my head and then had a 3 kilo vase thrown at me a few weeks later than ended up with me in the ER. The physical assaults and hospitalization occurred after a basic verbal disagreement when my ex 'exceeded' her second glass of wine....she always became violent....and I was a dill and didnt challenge her violent and abusive behavior when I was with her..Probably because we had a new baby asleep in her cot at the time...

(Excuse me TonyWK for a moment)....Betternow....The 'statistics' you mention are unhelpful to people that have suffered abuse of any description....I respect your point of view yet I dont subscribe to your interpretation of the OP's thread topic by making it a 'gender' based issue


Hi Betternow

Yes, there was no gender selection on my first post. I'm a male hence my account of my experience of abuse is female to male.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi TonyWK,

I agree with the substance of your post. I have a bit of a problem with abuse being what you believe it is. The reason for this is that my current partner thinks that by me picking up my children from their mother's house, I am abusing her, because she doesn't want me to do it, and I should "take her thoughts into consideration and not do things I don't like". She also doesn't like my kids' mother coming to my house to pick them up, as this is, in her mind, inappropriate. I should add that at her specific request (demand?) I do not enter my ex's house, nor does she enter mine.

I'm not trying to be contentious, I would genuinely like opinions on this.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi blond guy,

As someone who has been in an abusive relationship, I take exception to your assertion that the ‘statistics’ mentioned by BetterNow were not helpful. I’m not sure why ‘statistics’ was in quotes as if untrue as it is well recognized that domestic violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated on women by men. This isn’t to say that men can’t also experience domestic violence at the hands of women, as Tony attested to they can and it is also abhorrent. But not acknowledging the overwhelming statistics is minimizing the experience of a large percentage of the population. The sheer number of females murdered by their partners in recent times also speaks to this point.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Deckt,

Taking your post only as my gauge of judgment I see it like this-

Trust is part, a huge part of any successful and harmonic relationship. If your partner has a problem with that then you have a wider issue that needs to be sorted out with counseling because this trust issue will rare its ugly head in other ways down the track.

If it is either jealousy, possessiveness or some belief she has developed in her mind from some source (eg childhood) then that is also a problem but maybe fixable together.

As a parent that tried for 14 years to get along with my ex wife without success purely for the childrens sake, when ever I did stop to speak to her at her gate our kids ran around us with glee and laughter. They saw, or at least believed, we were talking and therefore happy.

My problem I have with your situation is twofold

  • That to restrict you from entering your ex's home is putting boundaries upon you when it is and should be, your decision as part of your personal freedom to decide. This freedom is personal freedom not a couples decision. Relationships do indeed have variations of boundaries between each others interactions with others to a point. Eg if your ex has been trying to reunite with you and your partner knew this and you returned to tell her you entered her home. Boom! expect conflict. But in a permanently separated marriage if your ex wife asked you in for a cuppa and discussed your childrens education- that should be your decision and in my view wild horses wouldnt stop me from making that decision in the interests of our children and harmony.
  • The reverse is not so clean cut. Your partner and you share a house, if your partners request is for you to not allow your ex wife into your home I would respect that decision. It would seem like an invasion of her privacy. It is though unfair as in essence we should all try to get along with our ex's as acquaintances and that is enhanced when we need to swap the children around for special events etc. But dropping them off should be perfectly allowable.

I would not endorse her word "abuse" when you are not doing an action that your partner is demanding and you are, or want to, exercise your right to make your own decisions. If anything manipulation and restriction of rights and freedom is more towards that description than refusing her demands.

A partner should never get between the kids and the parent and also any other action that promotes happiness for the children. They come first.


Hello Juliet_84 Im sorry for hijacking your thread topic TonyWK

I was only expressing my own opinion as per my own personal experience. Just from my own understanding gender statistics are not relevant to the thread topic as the OP mentioned

I am sorry that you have been in an abusive relationship. I hope you can exercise the same empathy to others irrespective of their gender

my kind thoughts