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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

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Paul,

Of course, I wouldn’t wish abuse on anyone and don’t think that is the price that anyone should have to pay for loving someone. It’s a complex topic and likely one that is experienced differently depending on gender - for women, there is the overwhelming fear of having someone who likely weighs almost twice as much as you, and who you are taught is there to protect you, fail you and intimidate you and act as if they hate you. And for males, I expect there is less of the fear/intimidation (although I may be wrong) but the frustration and psychological effects associated with your partner behaving that way towards you. I don’t wish to minimize either, but feel that we do minimize one if we ignore the facts. For these reasons, I do think gender is important for these reasons but I think that abuse from both sides should be understood more completely.

Hi Juliet,

I am a broad shouldered 130+ kg guy, ex prison officer, bouncer and investigator, yet I’m frightened by some women.

Let me say that the fear you felt with a double the size violent man is known to me from being attacked several times over the years. The fear I’ve got stems however from abuse by my mother for the first 55 years if my life through intimidation, emotional blackmail and other things.

This is why “abuse” is what the victim feels, not what other people, in particular the abuser, interprets as abuse. I’m sure for example my mother does not believe she abused us kids but we are the recipients of it, not her.

A good example is- my mother would demand my beautiful dad (dec) to side with her in all issues. If any of us kids found her intolerable, she knew we also lost our father. That sadness was emotionally crippling.

Just some examples of what men can go through, and I agree, we need to try and understand all cases individually.


Hi Tony,

I agree, and it seems as though you suffered a similar family dynamic with your mother as I did with mine unfortunately. There’s obviously something that we recognize as familiar and mistake for love (well I know I do at least, but am working on it). I also had a father who never stood up for us, and instead would avoid our eyes as he sided with whatever messed up thing, real or imagined, she believed that we had committed. So I swore that I would never find someone passive who wouldn’t stand up for me, and so I found an angry volatile man who I thought could protect me and instead ended up with my mother.
However, I would say that as a broad shouldered 130+kg guy, you stand more of a fighting chance than a 55kg woman who is very slight of build. That’s not to discount the fear that you feel, only to not have my experience discounted. I don’t agree with men fighting men, it’s always sickened me, but something about a man fighting a female seems particularly grotesque to me, it’s not a fair fight, not even close. But there is something soul-destroying that we all feel when subjected to abuse at the hands of a supposed love one. Obviously an emotional topic for us all.

Wonderful post Juliet.

Many years ago I described the control my mother had on us kids. He suggested I research narcissism which I did. I stumbled on this-

A book titled “walking on eggshells “ by Dr Christine Lawson.

Rather than read the book I googled-

queen witch hermit waif

Its interesting reading


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hey Tony,

Those are two different books.

Understanding the Borderline Mother is by Lawson.

Stop walking on eggshells by Mason and Kreger.

The latter is a good read, I can't speak for the former.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Thanks Juliet

Insightful all this.


Hi everyone,

With Xmas nearly here, let's remind ourselves that abuse should not be tolerated by anyone and to anyone.

Do you desire to discuss abuse?


Wow Tony just read all the past posts from 2020, very interesting and some difference opinion which is health.

I agree everyone has a different definition and understanding of abuse. I had a friend years ago who everyone thought her husband was cheating , controlling and demeaning. Her friends and family kept telling her to leave but she didnt and in the end cut off both her family and friends. She said no one knew what he had been through and she did and she found him caring.

So if the person does not see it as abuse is it abuse?

The other thing does the severity and length of time of the behaviour mean it is more likely to be seen as abuse.

I know a man whose wife controlled all the money, made all the decisions, would sulk for hours if he said anything to disagree with her, and much more. He never complains , is that abuse?

Once again a great thread and worth reviving.

Hi Quirky

Re: "I know a man whose wife controlled all the money, made all the decisions, would sulk for hours if he said anything to disagree with her, and much more. He never complains , is that abuse?"

That is carbon copy of my last relationship. Semi narcissism can fly under the radar for many years. As I'd had previous history of a spender I allowed her to hold the purse string. Model airplanes was my then hobby and when one crashed it costed about $100 to repair/replace. She said "how much has it cost us for the last 7 years for your hobby?" $11,000 I replied. "Are you proud of that"? She delved. "Well I said...better than $35,000 in cigarettes" (and I had radio and engines as collateral.

After that conflict I realised I was being abused. Such "control" was unreasonable as I earned 3 times her salary, didn't have any obsessions nor addictions and we were financially sound. In this case "abuse" is the attempted removal of a partners rights deemed on fairness providing funds weren't being sacrificed for bills.

Turning it over had I asked her initially "are you proud of spending $35,000 over 7 years on cigs"? Well, I would never do that because it's an addiction, I'd rely on encouragement.

Was I abused or was I too sensitive? We know 20% of all people come under the umbrella of HSP, highly sensitive people and I'm one. Is it unreasonable of me to stigmatise her as abusive when I'm HSP? I think in this case she is closer to unreasonable and over controlling of finances the latter that I foolishly gave away my input. It would be too reactive for me to call her abusive.

"The other thing does the severity and length of time of the behaviour mean it is more likely to be seen as abuse."

I think it eventually ends up as abuse as control often has a steady incline. Like, familiarity breeds contempt.

As for your friend that others believed she was bring abused but she found hubby caring. If she doesn't object to his verbal expression then she is tolerant to it and therefore not being abused. 1/ she accepts his manner of addressing her is OK 2/ she trades his caring attitude for his adverse demeanour.

All within her boundaries of liveable