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Accused of abuse

Community Member
I have recently left a relationship where I was accused of abuse. I had on occasion behaved poorly and let fly, however had not viewed this as abusive, but normal, albeit poor behaviour. On occasion I apologised and she let fly with a series of complaints about things like me having stuff in our shared house and failure to complete some tasks around the house. She did not accept my apologies, therefore I found this frustrating and felt the need to leave the house. I am confused about the boundary between normal but extreme/ unacceptable outburst and abuse and am taking this labelling very hard.
7 Replies 7

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Georgia777,

I can understand why being called abusive has struck such a nerve, it has quite a lot of negative connotations but I think it’s positive that you don’t want to be abusive. I think that a lot of people can rant and rave with little regard of the effect that it has on the other person, and I think lines can become blurred when yelling etc in the heat of an argument. I would consider abusive behavior a little different, the person would usually feel threatened by the behaviour, you may stand over them, or lock the door and take the keys, damage their possessions, call them derogatory names etc, things that quality as “crossing a line”. It’s important to remember that even though your angry, there are still rules that need to be in place that respect the other person. Perhaps you can explain your poor behavior in more detail?

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Georgia777~

I'd like to join Juliet_84 in welcoming you here, and agree it is a matter of degree and boundaries.

I think the first thing to ask if is you want the relationship to continue, or instead wish to 'clear your name' and maybe have a better idea of waht is acceptable to guide you for another time.

From waht I have seen abuse tends to come about where one person seek to control another, or to hurt them -there is no genuine and all-important care.

Controlling might be by something tangible like taking over all the money, or isolation by driving off freinds, repeated insets or put-downs or by gaslighting - plus lots of other examples. All this without physical violence, but still abuse.

By hurt I mean saying things that are too deeply hurtful to withdrawn or forgiven. Threatening a divorce might be an example, as might be threatening ot take hte children as a means of hurt. Going out of one's way to find matters that cut emotionally too deep -or having a relationship with another.

I'm not giving a complete list, just some idea of the tactics and severity of actions that are abusive, there are lots more.

If one deeply cares about another there can obviously still be arguments, but they do not go down to this level.

I guess if oyu wish to still be together finding why she will not accept your apologies might be a way though, though that refusal may indicate the realtionship is not surviving.

Like Juliet_84 I think to say anything more specific one would need more detail of the causes of the disputes, and also how you did behave when angry.

Perhaps, apart from clearing up the stuff in question and doing those tasks as a peace offering talk might be the way to go.

What do you think?



Community Member
Hi - thanks for responses. I have tried to apologise a number of times and get stonewalled. In the early stages she would not speak to me for a number of days and when I tried to unpack things she would not engage in conversations and just skipped back to everything being ok. I have felt controlled on a number of occasions by actions such as her keeping a record of where I have made errors which made me feel very insecure. At present my self esteem is through the floor and I am barely coping as I am so confused. I am certainly willing to own my part in this and work to address what I can but really hate the thought of being labelled as abusive.

Hi Georgia

You've received some really helpful support from Juliet and Croix and I don't want to repeat but just wanted to add a couple of thoughts.

Just because someone makes an accusation doesn't make it true.

Only you know enough about what has actually happened and been said to figure out if you have "crossed the line". Relationships Australia has some great information and a checklist on it's website that might help make things clearer.

Working through the checklist or giving them a call might be helpful.

Kind thoughts to you

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Georgia777~

I did try to give you an idea of what actual abuse might consist of, mainly so you would have an idea if in fact you had overstepped the mark.

I'd agree with Summer Rose that talking with an organization such has Relationships Australia (1300 364 277) who offer counseling (at variable rates depending on circumstances) might give you an outside perspective and balanced view. They are sensible and experienced.

The two things I find unusual about your partner is firstly to actually keep a record of matters where she says you made errors, and secondly going straight from complete stonewalling to everything's OK without a series discussion on what went wrong and how to fix it.

Perhaps I'm being a little harsh but to me this smacks more of controlling behavior than genuine hurt.

It can be very hard at times to judge one's own actions and end up either minimizing them , or the opposite, accepting blame undeserved.

An outside view might help


Hi Georgia, I've found the 1800RESPECT helpline and website to be amazing with regards to abusive behaviours, firstly in identifying them, and secondly in managing them. If you go onto their website, they list out all of the different types of abuse, and specific behaviours that might sit under those different categories. For instance, they say about psychological abuse: "No one behaves perfectly in their relationships all the time. However, when someone deliberately hurts you over and over again it becomes abusive. Behaviour from others that aims to make you feel scared or bad about yourself is not OK."

They also have a helpline with really great people who you can talk to in order to figure this stuff out. Things aren't clear cut when it comes to abuse. We all have a responsibility to look at our own behaviours and take responsibility for them, but it sounds like there may be behaviours that your girlfriend was showing that perhaps you found abusive or controlling also. Perhaps try not to concentrate on the label 'abuse' as much as considering the specific behaviours that she's brought up... does it feel real and true to you that these things happened? If yes, then there's some learnings there, but if not, then perhaps you need to unpack this a bit more with one of the helplines mentioned.

Hope you find some clarity with it all.

Thanks for all of this. I am very confused. I am certainly not perfect and could have done a lot of stuff better. I have never seen myself as abusive and this labelling has cut very deeply. I am wondering whether some of the control stuff has come from her and this is a bit of blame shifting, also prepared to address anything I have done. That is fair I think. Anyway, I can only do my bit. This accusation has really challenged me and I feel really depressed. The resources you have suggested are helpful, thanks again