Monday, February 07, 2022

Most common concern I hear from abuse victims is "What is normal? Am I being abused?" Thus....

In a relationship....


Not normal

Your partner wanting to know where you are

Being tracked by your partner (is through your phone or a hired person)

Telling your partner what you're doing; coordinating schedules and plans

Having to ask permission to do things; your partner controlling all schedules and plans; having to get approval to do things

Taking care of your personal needs (showers, eating, bathroom, health care, medication, etc) yourself; supporting your partner if they need it, and asking for help if you need it

Having to get permission to take care of personal needs (like shower or eat), your partner criticizing or demanding how you care for yourself; your partner denying you access to care, medication, etc., or interfering with care

Giving gentle, loving feedback--given and received pretty equally by both partners

Criticism, nitpicking, harping, frequent "correction" from your partner; explosive behavior, anger, blaming you, or tantrums if you give feedback to them

Saying or doing something mean or stupid on occasion, followed by apologies and sincere and largely successful attempts to do better (both partners do this sometimes, but not super often)

Your partner frequently doing mean things, apologizing only that you're angry (never for what was done), and making no sincere or long-lasting attempts to change even if there is lip service to the idea or a few days of better behavior; you never being allowed to make a mistake or do something stupid or mean without dire consequences; your partner mocking or punishing you for feeling sad when they are mean

Disagreeing or feeling angry at your partner on occasion (both partners, but not super often)

Being yelled at, shouted at, insulted; violence in language, demeanor, or behavior; frequent or constant disagreeing with you (but you not allowed to disagree with them);your partner always having to "win" the argument; feeling compelled to let your partner have their way out of fear, exhaustion, threat, or coercion

Feeling afraid of your partner

Consistently feeling deflated or sad or smaller after interacting with your partner

Asking questions to further understanding (both partners, as often as needed)

Gaslighting; frequently or repeatedly being made to question your own impressions, ideas, perceptions, understandings or made to feel you are just plain wrong on a regular basis; not being allowed to question your partner on anything without negative consequences

Having friends outside the marriage

Your partner controlling or demanding to know all the details about your interactions with people; not being allowed to have certain friends; having to report every detail of conversations or activities

Deciding for yourself what relationships you want to have with your own family

Your partner defining or pressuring you to have a certain (having more or having less) relationship with your family.

Pet names that both people enjoy that are loving; lightweight, mutually enjoyed teasing

Name Calling, demeaning, mocking, little "put downs" as pet names that sting or hurt; cruel teasing; saying or doing mean things under the guise of "teasing"

Discussing why things went wrong

Consistently being blamed for everything that goes wrong, your partner never accepting any responsibility. Everything is always your fault

Supporting your partner in changes, accepting their support, making suggestions

Your partner demanding you change or defining exactly how you must change

Consensual intimate behavior that both people enjoy and consent to

Non-consensual physical touch of any kind, coerced physical intimacy, intimate behavior that you are not comfortable with, not feeling like you can say no

Discussing money and using money wisely

Your partner denying you access to money, giving an "allowance," or controlling what every penny is spent on.

Sharing the workload

Being forced to do all the work (paid or unpaid); getting frequent criticism or strict instruction about how the work is done

Occasionally doing something stupid that makes your partner cry, have hurt feelings, etc (followed by apologies)

Your partner saying or doing things that make you cry on a regular basis

Learning together and solving problems together

Lecturing, demanding, controlling, manipulating, mandating, etc.; alternately, refusing to communicate about problems or engage in mutual problem solving; demanding you solve all the problems; criticizing how the problems are solved

Physical contact that is mutually desired and pleasant for both partners

Hitting, pushing, throwing things, other violent contact; alternately, withholding physical contact in order to punish or control the other person

Generally speaking, relationships should be between two independent adults who have mutual respect and mutual freedom within the relationship. Everything is cooperative, supportive, on equal footing, honest, kind, and loving. It is NOT NORMAL or HEALTHY for one person to be dominant in a relationship. One person should never have control or be in charge of the other person. No partner should ever feel afraid of the other. No couple is perfect all the time--feelings get hurt, anger gets expressed, people do stupid things and need to be corrected in errors. But when there is a pattern of controlling, demeaning, demanding, or fear-inducing behavior, that is NOT NORMAL. That is abuse.


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