Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Am I abusive?

(13 Posts)
backdatednamechange Fri 24-Jul-15 08:25:30

I have an ongoing thread about my relationship but decided to start this one so it didn't get lost.

Am I abusive? I think H is, so I have been reading about it, but scarily, a lot of the stuff applied to me. I'll copy some of it.

*Blame-shifting for Feelings^

The abuser will deny feelings stem from within him/her but see them as reactions to your behaviour or attitude toward him/her. He/she may tell you that 'you make me mad', 'you're hurting me by not doing what I ask', or that he/she cannot help feeling mad, upset, etc. Feelings may be used to manipulate you, i.e. 'I would not be angry if you didn't ...' Positive emotions will often also be seen as originating outside the abuser, but are more difficult to detect. Statements such as 'You make me happy' or 'You make me feel good about myself' are also signs that the abuser feels you are responsible for his sense of well-being. Either way, you become in his/her mind the cause of good and bad feelings and are therefore responsible for his/her emotional well-being and happiness. Consequently, you are also to blame for any negative feelings such as anger, upset or depression.

So, when I say that he, or the kids, etc have made me happy - this is an abusive trait! Many other things also make me happy. I am also guilty of saying that he has made me angry, or his behaviour has made me feel angry. But I'm so confused now. Surely when someone behaves terribly, it does hurt and anger? Does this mean everyone is an abuser?

Most abusers have very low self-esteem and are therefore easily insulted or upset. They may claim their feelings are 'hurt' when they are really angry, or take unrelated comments as personal attacks. They may perceive normal set-backs (having to work additional hours, being asked to help out, receiving a parking fine, etc.) as grave personal injustices. They may view your preference for something which differs from their own as a criticism of their taste and therefore themselves (e.g. blue wallpaper rather than pink, etc.).

Again, I am this all over. I am very sensitive and have been diagnosed with anxiety - but I wasn't always this way!

This is a fairly important warning sign and really quite easy to spot once you can tell all the little ways in which you are being verbally abused. In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, either in public or in private, this can include degrading remarks or running down any accomplishments. Often the abuser will tell you that you are 'stupid', could not manage without him/her. He/she may keep you up all night to 'sort this out once and for all' or even wake you at night to continue to verbally abuse you. The abuser may even say kindly things to your face, but speak badly about you to friends and family. (Check out Verbal Abuse for more information)

I'm ashamed to say yes. If we fight, I don't want to go to bed until it's resolved because it torments me all night. When we fight, I do (used to, not as much now) name call and swear. I just, react in a nasty argument.

I'm not making excuses for myself, believe me this has knocked me sideways. For all this time I've been thinking it was H getting worse but it would actually be me? Can an abusive relationship turn someone into an abuser? And how can I stop?

Please help, my life is pretty shit right now.

woowoo22 Fri 24-Jul-15 08:40:11

Your life is shit because you're in an abusive relationship.

STOP blaming yourself OP, pleasethanks

An abusive relationship causes you to have high levels of stress and anxiety.

ALaughAMinute Fri 24-Jul-15 09:04:42

No you're not an abuser, you have taken the words out of context because you're in an abusive relationship and have low self esteem.

Get legal advice and do something about it. Stop blaming yourself! flowers

RealityCheque Fri 24-Jul-15 10:23:11

Anyone who tells you that you are not an abuser (or anyone that says you are) is frankly ridiculous.

No one can possibly know either way from the small amount listed here.

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Fri 24-Jul-15 12:39:27

No one can possibly know either way from the small amount listed here.


The prevailing culture also makes it more difficult for women to realise when they are being abusive. Especially when they aren't being violent. (And even then, it's taken lightly if a woman slaps a man in a sitcom, for example. Commonly mentioned anxieties, such as on this board, about monogamous partners having opposite sex friends, or spending a lot of time on hobbies, can also make it hard, especially for someone who had abusive parents, to tell exactly what is and is not controlling, and the boundaries on these issues will to an extent vary between couples.)

There is such a thing as the mutually abusive relationship (which many statistical sets show to be more common than one-sided abuse; they are common because people with abusive backgrounds, addictions etc are often drawn to one another or move in the same circles - but women often come off worse in those relationships when they turn violent because they are physically not as strong or large as the male partner).
A person can also have an alternating pattern of relationships where with one partner they are mostly controlled, and then the next, rebound-type partner who is less assertive, they are controlling towards.

It sounds as though you have a lot on your plate already. If you are in the process of moving out / splitting up, you probably need to concentrate on that first. But if, as the dust settles, you are doing therapy, you might want to examine this issue.

This is a leaflet for women from Respect that talks through scenarios in which women might be using violence to defend themselves, where both partners are abusive, etc, and might be a step in working out whether you think it's both of you or just him:

Here is a rare article by a middle-class woman who realised she was abusive to her male partners:

Lovingfreedom Fri 24-Jul-15 12:49:34

Abusers often accuse their victims of being the abusive one.

backdatednamechange Fri 24-Jul-15 12:59:17

I think it is both of us.

I'm not jealous or violent though. The only things which apply to my behaviour are those I posted.

And I do believe that this has developed as a defence/reaction to H.

But now I'm questioning myself and wondering if it was me all along, not him.

petalsandstars Fri 24-Jul-15 13:04:02

Either way the relationship should end surely?

Enoughalreadyyou Fri 24-Jul-15 13:15:06

It's not you it's him. He will be using crazy making mind games. You are falling for it. The only way out as I discovered is to reclaim your own life as an individual even if you stay.

Look after yourself.
Detach emotionally.
See friends.
Be as financially independent as you can.
Stop trying to fix things.
Change yourself it's the only thing that works.

Your self esteem will soar and you won't be looking to him to make you happy. Because you have made you happy.
I suppose it's called becoming an adult in the true sense of the word.
This will take time and determination. It's a process of growth.
I did it you can too.

backdatednamechange Fri 24-Jul-15 13:28:11

Yes it should petal.

That doesn't mean i can't try and reflect and change these things about myself.

PoundingTheStreets Fri 24-Jul-15 14:29:38

The fact that you are asking this question and are so willing to assume responsibility is the biggest indication that you're probably not abusive.

You will tie yourself up in knots if you continue questioning your own behaviour to this extent without removing yourself from the context of this relationship. None of us live in a vacuum. We all experience our behaviour being affected/changed by the life we lead, including the behaviour of the people in it. It is actually ok to be angry at someone because of the way they've behaved or to be delighted with someone because they've done something pleasant.

For most people, in the context of a loving relationship, it is accepted that each person has autonomy of thought and action - i.e. they are allowed to think/feel/act how they want, as long as it is in a way that is considerate of the other person in the relationship and within the reasonable established rules of the relationship (e.g. monogamy). A healthy relationship with encourage the other to fulfil their individual ambitions and personal development while balancing that against the need to nurture the relationship as a couple.

Where abusers cross the line is that there is no such balance. It all has to be on their terms. And they take no responsibility for their own happiness - e.g. trying to achieve that qualification that will lead to promotion and instead blaming their boss for not recognising their potential. Not supporting their partner by doing their fair share around the house/with the kids and then accusing them of not making enough effort as a partner.

IF you find yourself second-guessing everything you do to this extent, try to re-establish the ground rules by comparing how much you do for each other, how much each has compromised, how much personal responsibility has been shown, etc.

But also bear in mind that staying in an abusive relationship can often result in the victim becoming quite manipulative and passive aggressive because this is the only way they can get their needs met. Unfortunately, it diminishes the victim so much to end up going down that road and plays into the hands of the abuser who can then point out the poor behaviour as a 'reason' for their abuse. sad

woowoo22 Fri 24-Jul-15 15:08:15

This ^^

And what I said was not ridiculous.

CharlotteCollins Fri 24-Jul-15 15:16:21

Agree with PP: the fact you question yourself shows you are not abusive. Get out of the relationship if/when you can and then think it all through with a counsellor or a Freedom Programme group.

Feeling that somebody makes you happy is normal. Telling them that with the intention of making them feel responsible for you is the abusive bit.

Having low self-esteem in itself is not abusive. Abusers have low self-esteem. That doesn't mean everybody with low self-esteem is abusive.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: