This post was contributed by Jessica, a loveisrespect advocate
“What you said made me act that way.”
“You hit/shoved/pushed me, too.”
“You started this.”
“You’re abusing me, too.”
Has your partner ever said things like this to you? Here at loveisrespect, we talk with a lot of people who are able to recognize that their relationship is unhealthy or even abusive, but they also believe that the abuse exists on both ends, or that both partners are at fault for the abuse.
Many times, we speak with survivors of abuse who want to address concerns they have about their own behaviors. They will often express that their relationship is mutually abusive, a concept used when describing a relationship where both partners are abusive towards one another. But the thing about “mutual abuse” is that it doesn’t exist. Abuse is about an imbalance of power and control. In an unhealthy or abusive relationship, there may be unhealthy behaviors from both/all partners, but in an abusive relationship one person tends to have more control than the other.
So, why doesn’t mutual abuse exist?