Am I Abusive Too? The Myth of Mutual Abuse

Am I Abusive Too? The Myth of Mutual Abuse

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?

Self-Defense

If you’ve ever yelled at your partner, participated in an intense argument or used physical force, there are certain instances where this would not be considered abusive.

Enduring abuse over time can lead to broken down self-esteem, feelings of low self-worth and intense emotional stress or even PTSD. While it’s never healthy to yell back at a partner or be violent with them, if you are experiencing abuse you might have used one of these strategies when you felt your safety was at risk or you were trying to re-establish your independence in the relationship. Self-defense is not abuse and identifying it as such can increase any fear you already feel in the situation. Everyone has the right to defend their safety both emotionally and physically.

Blame Shifting

The excuse of “mutual abuse” also allows the abusive partner to shift blame. We know that abusive partners rarely take responsibility for their actions and that blame shifting is a common tactic. If your abusive partner is claiming that you’re equally or more responsible for an incident or that you too were abusive, this is their way of manipulating you into believing you did something to deserve this treatment. Believing you’re at fault helps the abusive partner to continue to have control and often leaves you feeling as if you’re the one who needs to make changes.

For example, an argument occurs in which your partner tries to keep you from leaving the room. They may physically block the doorway, and in your attempt to rightfully leave you shove your partner out of the way. Your partner chooses to lash out at you for this with physical violence. Afterwards they claim that you were abusive too because you shoved them. Your partner’s attempt to keep you from leaving already exhibits efforts to gain power and control. Their extreme reaction to the shove does as well. They felt threatened by your choice to leave, whereas in a healthy relationship your partner would respect your right to walk away from an argument. When it’s over they blame you for their actions of violence in a final pursuit of control. You shoving your partner in order to get away from them does not constitute abuse. Abuse is a pattern of behavior intended to have power over someone else, usually a partner.

Difference Between Survivor and Abuser

In assessing your own and your partner’s behavior, you might notice certain things that correlate with red flags of abuse. That, along with an abusive partner’s constant manipulation and blame shifting, can make it hard to accept that you are in fact the survivor and NOT the abuser. One way to recognize the difference between an abuser and the person they’re hurting is the willingness to seek change. Admitting to unhealthy or abusive behavior, committing to stopping, reaching out for help and asking about the process of change are things that abusive people rarely do. If you’re reading this post because you’re thinking about how you can change your own behaviors and create a healthier relationship, ask yourself: Is this something you could see your partner doing?

Need to talk about what’s going on in your relationship? Loveisrespect advocates are here 24/7. Call, chat or text us any time!

Comment section

61 replies
  1. OMG! This is a real thing! I have finally been able to put a name to things I felt and experienced for so many years! Deny Minimize Blame is one but this is another! After I finally got a restraining order and go him out of the house, I went to sign up for anger management! He told me I was the abuse one so many times.

    I am grateful everyday for where I am today. I love being single and enjoying my life!

    1. Hi Sara,

      I’m so glad you’re part of our online community and that you found our blog post so helpful! It can be such a powerful experience to recognize what you’ve been through. It sounds like you’re in a safe and happy place now and we are so happy for you. If you want to talk about your experiences at any point, we’re here for you by phone, text and online chat 24/7.

      Take care!

      LIR Advocate AS

    2. I can identify with you..this would be the 3rd abusive relationship..this is a very healing place..glad to escaped!

      1. Hi gj,

        Thank you for being a part of our online community! It’s wonderful to hear that you are in a safer place now! No one deserves to experience abuse of any kind, and that you have not only shown resilience in your own situation but have also voiced empathy to others is so admirable.

        If you would ever like to talk about what you experienced, explore other tools for healing, or have any questions or concerns that you would like to discuss, please reach out to us, anytime. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522).

        Take care!
        Advocate GR

  2. I am 3 weeks out of a physically abusive relationship. The first line of defense my abuser gave me was to tell me that I was abusive too. “I read a lot of this stuff and it sounds like you too” she said. I never hit her, insulted her, and constantly built her up, so I knew it wasn’t true. She attacked me close fisted across the head multiple times, around 12 times over 3 years. But the crazy thing despite these clear facts I struggle with believing her. Why? Because I struggle with believing anything she said. My abuser started to mimic my behavior just to put herself on equal footing. She called the DV hotline after I did. She went to the safehouse after I did. She took 70% of the money and acted like she was taking 1/2. She tries constantly to put herself on equal footing with me to create confusion. But the reality is I remember the emotional abuse, the insults, and the physical attacks. And I know I am the victim, I am the survivor. I wear my titanium wedding ring on my right hand to never let me forget that it’s me who is the survivor and she is a relationship criminal, who used my trust and love, to destroy my self esteem, physically assault me, and take my money. She has left the state now to go back to her family and cast herself as a victim but I know the truth.

    1. Hi JW

      Thank you for reaching out for support. Abuse is a very painful and traumatic thing to experience. For her to accuse you of being abusive after everything is very cruel. It’s normal to need time to heal. Healing from abuse is a frustrating process because it often takes longer than anyone would like it to take. If you would like support around healing or talk to an advocate, we are here 24/7 on chat, at 1-866-331-9474, and by texting “loveis” 22522.

      Take care,

      Advocate LC

  3. Mine wen as far as to google things that were wrong with me and send them. These were the reasons he had to bounce me off every door frame in the house and scream in my face. Block my path, grip my arms and on and on. For a while I after I acted like him. In some muddled mess I though he’d be afraid if I was like him and go away. Leaving was so hard and I was such a mess. Now, it was the best thing that I ever did.

    1. Hi N,

      Thank you so much for being a part of our online community and sharing your story! It sounds like you went through so much, and I’m sorry to hear that he chose to be abusive toward you. You deserve to feel safe and to be treated with respect by everyone in your life. There is never an excuse for abuse, and you are not at fault for anyone’s abusive behavior in any way.

      I’m glad to hear you are in a safer place now, and please know that you deserve support at every step in the healing process. If you would ever like to talk through what you experienced or you are interested in exploring options for expanding your support system, you are always welcome to reach out to us, anytime. We are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522) to offer a safe space for you.

      Take care,
      Advocate GR

    2. yea. don’t feel bad.many of us do that. its a survival mechanism. I thought the same thing. worst thing is to be like them. glad we are able to get away and realize that is not our true self. just a bad experience and a bad reaction to something bad. do not blame self. I thought I had to act strong and tough and “scary” so he would stop. it increases their rage. and we end up shaking in fear as its not our true self

  4. To imply that only one person in a relationship carries the label of ‘abuser’ is downright false and ignores reality. These are plenty of relationships where both partners behave abusively.

    1. Hi A,

      Thank you for commenting. Abuse isn’t always simple and sometimes it can be really complicated to navigate abusive relationships. No one deserves abuse even if they have abusive behaviors themselves. Abuse is often thought of as an anger issue but it is truly rooted in power and control issues. Abuse occurs when one partner has power or control over another. It isn’t possible for both partners to have more power in the relationship. Not all survivors react in a perfectly healthy way. Sometimes they may lash out verbally or physically in response to the abuse. This doesn’t make their behavior ok or excusable but it doesn’t make them abusive. Reacting to abuse with abuse or having abusive behaviors is different than being an abusive partner. If you find yourself or someone you care about in an abusive relationship you always have the option to reach out to an advocate. We are here 24/7 at chat, 1-866-331-9474, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take care,

      Advocate LC

      1. Thank you so much for your response! I can’t begin to tell you how helpful this article (and this response) is to me especially right now. A million thank yous!!!!

        1. Hi DADA,

          Yes, we still offer our text-for-help service – so sorry it wasn’t working for you! You can text loveis (no spaces) to 22522 to start a conversation with an advocate. Depending on how many texts we’re receiving at once, wait times may vary. Also, please note that we are U.S.-based, so if you are located outside the United States, our services may not work for you. Hope to hear from you soon!

    2. I agree with A. I see it all the time where both people are abusive. Sometimes it’s very difficult to know who started the abuse, if it even started in such a simple, one-sided way. Sometimes there is no physical violence whatsoever, and still a ton of abuse. Sometimes there is emotional abuse from one side, the other person eventually becomes physical and then the whole dynamic significantly changes. None of it is as simple in general as is almost always portrayed. And then again, sometimes it is extremely simple, with one person being very controlling, abusive, and in some cases, just downright evil. One of the problems we have when it comes to dealing with abuse is the apparent need to ALWAYS find one abuser and one survivor. It’s not that simple. We need to have less black and white thinking and more intricate and objective analysis of what’s going on. One thing seems certain to me, however, and that is that anyone who is abusive or abused needs help. Concentrating on that, and concentrating on helping people who are in unhealthy (or worse) relationships are much more important and helpful than the need to always establish who is more abusive than the other, and the assumption that there is always one abuser and one survivor.

      1. Hi P,

        Thanks for sharing your perspective here. We get what you’re saying; some really unhealthy and toxic relationships exist where both partners behave in ways that aren’t healthy. But like Advocate LC said above, abuse is about power and control, and in an abusive relationship, there is an imbalance of power. In this post, what we are trying to clarify for people experiencing abuse is that although they may react to abuse in unhealthy ways, that does not mean they are equally responsible for the abuse. As we state in the post, an abusive person often uses blame and manipulation to make their partner think that the abuse is somehow their fault. This helps to solidify the abusive person’s sense of control over their partner, helps create feelings of shame or guilt in the victim and often keeps the victim from leaving the relationship. It can be confusing, because relationships are complicated, and we definitely encourage you to get in touch with us if you have any questions or want to talk further!

        1. I understand those things, and while it is wrong to victim blame, wrong to blame yourself when abused and wrong to make excuses for abuse, it is also overly simplistic and very inaccurate to suggest that in all abusive relationships, there is one abuser and one survivor. That’s simply not true. One of the things you two are saying is that in abusive relationships, there is always in imbalance of power. How do you determine which relationships are exactly 50% in power, and which ones have that abusive imbalance, unless you’re talking about an obviously one-sided abusive relationship? In fact, exactly 50% is impossible, just like something being absolutely perfect is impossible. In addition, there are different types of power and abuse, so in a relationship where both people are abusive, someone might be abusing her partner verbally, while the partner is stealing from, lying about, and cheating on her, which is very abusive as well. You can have a relationship where both people are physically abusive to each other, and they don’t have the first clue who was abusive first. The idea that there has to either be equal power or one person with more power and therefore the one and only abuser is just a bad idea on so many levels. I get what you’re saying, but in many cases, things are as simple and one-sided as you’re painting them, and in many cases, they aren’t.

      2. One thing that going to therapy taught me is that you can have abusive or narcissistic traits, and not be a narcissist or abuser. Trust me, I was at the point where I thought I was abusive and that everything was my fault because I was jealous, and wanted my partner to not run out on me until 1am because they were mad. Or being mad at them for smoking pot and lying to me, etc. So I have traits and reactions, but that doesn’t make me abusive. Because I’m aware, I don’t place blame, I try to change it, I never call names or put him down, etc.. gas lighting is a very real dangerous thing, and in a survivor of emotional abuse, we need to be very careful about what we say when it comes to mutual abuse possibilities. Because we believe it.

        1. Hi K,

          Thanks so much for sharing your experiences here. That’s a really important distinction to make. It’s great that you are able to recognize these traits in yourself and you are aware of your behavior so that you don’t hurt your partner. You mentioned therapy, and it’s awesome that you have that support! If you ever need someone else to talk to, we’re here 24/7!

    3. this article is to help those where there is ONE abuser and the other falls into abusive behaviour as a reaction and is LEAD into it on purpose by the abuser (yes they do that!) so they can have yet another tactic to abuse.. the last sentence seals it…this is to help validate those who feel bewildered that they have exhibited abusive behaviours!! they feel shocked hurt shamed.. GUILTY etc wheras abusers do NOT feel those things. such things exist and this article is needed to help those people see their true non abusive self. (get back to their true self) the abuser may have been abused in past but that’s not the “new” (non abusive beforehand) person’s fault! its about scapegoating to justify abuse which is WORSE (a double abuse and an intentional one at that point) just because there CAN BE two abusers doesn’t mean there can also be ONE and the other bewildered into thinking they are too. there is a clear difference. this article is just to point out those differences and is therefore also a step in HEALING process that abusers don’t WANT to see.

  5. As of Oct 31, 2015, my wife and myself have mutual restraining orders. We can not talk, text, write, nothing. It is heartbreaking. It started from an argument in a hotel room. It escalated to her attacking me, biting me, tearing my shirt, she put her hand in my mouth, I bit it, I was tired of her doing this, she came at me again, I pushed her off of me, she then stumbled left and hit her cheek on the bedside table, it started to bleed. The next day she filed a EPO on me, I had no contact with her for two weeks until our court date. I got an attornery and filed a domestic violence order on her. We basically had them on both of us. Our attorneys agreed on mutual restraining orders. It is horrible. I feel like a criminal I’m not. So many times I took the physical/emotional abuse especially on alcohol. Our only recourse is divorce. It is like being in a room without windows or doors. Nothing I can do. I know we were mutually abusive to each other, but I found solitude or escape from it many times. I started to be like her, but many times I would just take the abuse and just suck it up. Once it started it wouldn’t stop. I blame myself, she would never take the responsibility, that is all I wanted from her is to forgive and take responsibility for her actions. It was always my fault. I really enjoy this page. I have so much to share. My soul needs healing, I look for anything for peace. I go to church, al-anon, talk to friends, anything. I feel so much hurt and blame. I keep telling myself it is not my fault. I was only defending myself.

    1. This post has been modified to remove identifying information per our community guidelines

      Hi Bil,

      Thank you for sharing your story. The argument in the hotel room sounds very traumatic and something you didn’t deserve. No matter what is going on in a relationship each person always deserves to have their voice equally valued and to be treated with respect. From what you have shared with us today, it sounds like every time you lashed out it was in response of her abuse. Reacting to her abuse with abusive behavior isn’t ok or acceptable but that doesn’t make you abusive. Regardless of what she may have said or tried to make you feel, her abuse was never your fault or something you deserved. You deserve to have a safe space to heal and to move forward from this. We are always here if you would like to talk with an advocate and we can also connect you to your local resources. You can contact us through chat, at 1-866-331-9474, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take care,

      Advocate LC

      1. And another pet peeve: whey does everyone ask “why does she stay?” What everyone should be asking is WHY DOES HE STAY and WHY DOES HE KEEP HITTING HER? He’s the one that should be questioned about why he keeps hitting/abusing her. Not she has to leave. HE HAS TO STOP–OR LEAVE HIMSELF!

    2. I really identify with this. My bf always projected everything on me..it was never his fault..or he would say its all his fault, very sarcastically. Because my 2 ex husbands had been abusive..I thought it HAD to be my fault. I feel like my soul has been hurt and only want healing. I didn’t want a relationship, he pursued me.Its as if they KNOW I can be abused, emotionally..I just want to heal and have peace~

      1. Hi gj,

        Thank you for sharing your story and for contributing to our online community! The abuse that you have experienced is not your fault in any way, and you absolutely deserve the space and support to heal. You deserve a healthy relationship, and I’m so sorry your past partners worked against that in such a harmful and destructive way.

        If you would ever like to talk about what you experienced or discuss resources that may be able to support you through healing, I encourage you to reach out to us, anytime. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522).

        Take care,
        Advocate GR

        1. My abuser called me names, refused to talk to me, refused to work on our relationship, then hit me (black eyes), stranged me, sprained my wrist, kicked, spit (I never retaliated–I didn’t even defend myself–too scared he would kill me)–and when I tried to set boundaries and objected to his attacks–he accused me of “abusing” him by demanding he stop abusing me. WHAT? I was abusive for trying to control his abusive behavior. How do you even wrap your head around this one?

          1. Hi Erin,

            Thank you for sharing your story. What you survived was very violent and traumatic. You never deserve any for form of abuse and you always have a right to set boundaries. No matter how committed a relationship becomes, you have a right to have space of your own and to have boundaries in your relationship. We have a page on what setting boundaries in a healthy relationship looks like at this link. Many abusive partners try to manipulate the situation and make their partner feel like the abuse is their fault or healthy relationship behaviors such as boundaries aren’t ok. This is a rather cruel thing to do to someone. As you mentioned in your other comment, it is never ok for someone to judge someone for staying in an abusive relationship. There are several reasons why people stay and each situation is different but it is never because someone is ok with the abuse. Abusers are not unlovable. They are whole people with valid reasons why someone would love them. Also, leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time and it may take time for someone to have a safe way out. We have a page on why people stay at this link. If you would like to talk to an advocate about your experience we are here 24/7 at 1-866-331-9474, on chat, and through text.

            Take care,

            Advocate LC

    3. Emotional abuse is just as damaging if not more so. I know I launched at my ex twice in the past, but that was after many, many times of his emotionally abusing and abandoning me and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Not saying that’s what happened, but it would be good to consider whether emotional abuse or abandonment was the norm prior to her physically launching. I know with me, my ex used my physically snapping to claim that I was evil and abusive and that he was going to call the police on me even though he had been violating me emotionally and mentally for SO LONG and couldn’t see it. On top of that, he violated my sexual boundaries over and over and over again and wouldn’t change that, either.

  6. For the longest time I had doubts about whether I was the abusive one or not.. Now thanks to this article, this beautiful, fantastic article I can finally forgive myself and move on. The part where it talks about restraining you from leaving a room so you push them so you can walk away.. That was me. That was so me, and sometimes he’d continuously restrain me until I slapped him in the face. This all happened when we moved into an apartment together with our son. My son has issues with guys that have similar looks to him.. He wasn’t even a year old at the time this was happening, and he’ll be 16 months next week. I really hate myself for it, and I feel like I failed as a mother because I couldn’t identify him as abusive until he put his hands around my throat and started choking me. I have a restraining order on him, he finally was caught violating it last night. He’s going to jail. I should be happy about it, but I keep feeling like I’m going to have an anxiety attack and I just don’t feel safe, even with him locked behind bars.

    1. Hi Brooke,

      Thank you for being a part of our online community, and I’m so glad to hear that this article was helpful for you! It sounds like you have been through so much, and that you have shown such strength to protect yourself and your son is so admirable! Abuse isn’t always easy to identify, especially when you are in the situation. This is not your failure. This is you showing incredible resilience and bravery in the face of an awful situation created by someone else’s choice to be abusive.

      You deserve to feel safe, and you deserve support through this. I encourage you to reach out to talk with us further about your situation! We would be more than willing to talk through what an effective safety plan might look like for you, as well as exploring other support options or addressing any questions or concerns you might have. We are here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522) to offer a safe space to talk.

      Take care,
      Advocate GR

  7. My daughter’s father has been using this against me. I’m so glad MTV managed to post something that was useful to me and I actually took the time to look. I left him tonight. Its hard and I’m hurting so much but I know that for my daughter and me we deserve so much better. There were times where I felt I was the abuser because he made me feel that way. Now I know why. Because I started to stand up for myself after my daughter was born. My mom recognized the signs because she went thru abuse from my dad. I probably would still be enduring it if I didn’t ask her for help out tonight. I was contemplating suicide and I knew I was the only one who could protect my daughter. I called my mom crying begging her to come get me out because I was becoming afraid of myself. He broke me down so much. Made me hate myself. Made me never be happy about the things I love. I’m sorry for the rant but I need to get this out to someone

    1. Hi Ashley,

      We are so glad you found us and have become part of our online community! It sounds like you and your daughter have survived an incredibly difficult and confusing situation. It takes courage to talk about what you’ve been through and even more to reach out for help the way you did. We are so glad to hear that your mom was there for you when you needed her. Having a support system can make such a difference!

      Blame shifting happens in many abusive relationships and can escalate to the abusive person calling their partner abusive, often for the controlling and manipulating behaviors they are, in fact, using to take that partner’s power away. When you aren’t an abusive person, it can be extremely scary and confusing to have someone tell you that you are, especially someone you should be able to trust. We’re so glad that you found our post helpful; it can be powerful to have your experiences named like this. If you’d like to talk more about your experiences or find local resources, feel free to call (866-331-9474), chat or text (‘loveis’ to 22522) anytime, 24/7.

      We’re here for you!

      LIR Advocate AS

      1. Another thing: when he is twice your size–(even if not but) he has the advantage. Mohammad Ali would never be allowed to box a small bantam weight. Not legal. Not right. How would he like it if I was twice his size and punched hin down all the tirme? WRONG!

    1. Hello Reina,

      Thank you for participating in our online community. Respect and trust are important aspects of a healthy relationship. Trust is something that you choose to give a partner. If you have any questions or concerns about healthy, unhealthy or abusive relationships, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. Advocates are available 24/7 on chat, at 1-866-331-9474 or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

      Take good care,
      Advocate RG

  8. WOW. I am so glad to finally find something that verifies part of my experience. I think this is a form of gaslighting which abusers are masters at and if they can get you to believe that you are crazy or that you too are an abuser, then, they have that much more control. I do believe from what I experienced and after reading this that so many women who are seen as “combative” are really victims of abuse. The abuser is a master manipulator.

    1. Hi TL,

      I am so glad to hear that this is validating for you. Gaslighting can be really scary, and leaves many survivors with a strong sense of doubt about their own judgment. Abuse is certainly based in power and control, and gaslighting is a way to increase both of those elements. You’re very right, it’s natural to be upset about an abusive partner treating you that way, and often that is what causes the confusion about who is abusive. Experiencing any type of manipulation can be very upsetting and stressful. Again, I’m glad you found this article and that it was helpful for you.

      If you’d ever like to talk more about this topic or your experience feel free to reach out to us through our online chat, text (send “loveis” to 22522), or by calling us at 1.866.331.9474. We are 24/7 and would love to hear from you if that’s something you feel would be beneficial for you!

      Best Wishes
      Advocate JL

    2. This is exactly what I’m going through right now and am trying to leave. Why is leaving so hard? Why do I feel shameful & responsible? He always pushes every button and does just enough to get me to react back and then completely DENIES his abusive behavior toward me.

      1. Hi Melissa,

        I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m very glad you’re thinking about what you want and what’s best for you in this situation. It’s completely natural to feel those things. And people stay in abusive relationships for a wide variety of reasons because it is very hard to leave. Abusive partners are often very charming and manipulative, and they regularly deny their actions and refuse to take responsibility. Often this involves shifting the blame onto you, instead of taking the blame for his own choices. There is nothing you could ever say or do to deserve abuse. It sounds like you may be experiencing gaslighting as well, trying to emotionally manipulate you into doubting yourself.

        We’d love to talk more about this with you if that’s something you’d be interested in. I’m sure this is confusing and stressful, so if you ever need support or resources we’re here 24/7 by phone (1.866.331.9474), online chat and text (text: loveis to 22522).

        Take care,
        Advocate JL

  9. I feel like I have finally found peace, when I read this article, I have survived a very toxic abusive relationship, which is now completely over. He finally pushed me to the edge, when I got a baseball bat to retailiate, he called the police & now I am having to fight an assault with a dangerous weapon. He thinks that he has won & that I am the abusive person, but I know that if he had not abused me for 20 years, that I would not be in this predicament at this time!

    1. Hi there Ellen,

      I am so encouraged to hear that you have brought yourself out of the abuse of your previous relationship. Thank you so much for sharing your story with our blog community. It sounds like you have been through so much, and I’m sorry you’re still having to deal with those legal issues now. I’m hearing that even though he has tried to manipulate the situation you are being incredibly strong. If you ever need to talk more about your experiences or would like to talk about legal resources available to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are available 24/7 through the chat on our homepage, by texting loveis to 22522 or by phone 1-866-331-9474.

      Best,
      Advocate JL

  10. This article just clarified so much for me. Ever since my boyfriend and I got an apartment a year ago, things have escalated from just verbal abuse to also physical abuse. It was always my fault. He wouldn’t let me leave rooms. He would always blame me, but if I retaliated in any way, not only would the abuse get much worse, but he’d also tell me I was the abusive one. Usually I was just trying to get him to let go of my wrists, which he always tried to sprain, or I’d just try and get out of the apartment and he’d put me in a headlock so I’d stomp on his feet. I don’t know what to do. Last night we were walking the dog and having an argument, so he let go of our dog’s leash. It’s something he’d do to upset me. So our dog ran off after another dog, and when I mentioned that, he yelled at me, “Why aren’t you going after him?” and slapped me. I ran inside and packed up my stuff and left before he got back in. I still love him. I haven’t told anyone about the abuse because I am ashamed and I also feel like a lot of it is my fault. No one should have a partner that makes them feel this way.

    1. Hi Drea,

      We’re so glad this article was helpful to you. You do not deserve to be treated that way by anyone, and it’s absolutely not your fault. We would really like to help whenever you’re ready to reach out. Please call us at 1-866-331-9474, chat here on the website or text “loveis” to 22522.

  11. Thank you so much for this article. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for nearly two years, and I recently broke off all contact after he hurt me one too many times. In one of my last conversations with my ex, he said he was sorry for everything he said, but I pushed him to say those things. It was not the first time I heard him say that.

    Whenever I told him that he offended me or hurt my feelings, he would say that I started it, take my words out of context from previous conversations, or list times that I hurt him. He confused me: one day he would tell me I was beautiful and amazing, the next it would be spiteful and snarky remarks. Fights escalated to the point where I would apologize just to stop them. In some cases, I would avoid certain topics with him just to avoid a fight; other times, I would ignore abusive texts til I felt safe enough to have a civil conversation with him. One time he refused to ask me a question (for example, how are you, how was work, etc.) because he claimed he already knew everything he needed to know about me: No trust. Other times he would say that he was not doing well because he “cannot stop thinking about all the times [I] hurt [him]”.

    Reflecting on my time with him, I realized how abusive and toxic he was. He would shift the blame, utilize gaslighting, accuse me of mistrust and cheating/opening up to other men who were not him, give ultimatums (Never go on a vacation without me for as long as you live, or we are over), trivialized things I said, compared me to other women, etc. Though I regret raising my voice in some fights, I learned how to defend my good name and stand up for myself.

    1. Hi A,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story with our community. We’re glad that this article was helpful to you and that you were able to leave your abusive ex. If you ever need additional support in your healing process, feel free to call, chat or text with one of our advocates!

  12. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve been in this situation where I was called abusive too, so naturally I start panicking thinking, “What if I AM abusive? I need to stop!”, and “I deserve his abuse because I am the same way!” But you have given voice to my feelings that I knew, deep down, that that kind of thinking was wrong. I knew that my abuser causes stress and negative reactions in me, and though I can’t justify those reactions, at least I know they come from self-defense and not a desire to control my partner. Thank you, again, so much.

    1. Hi Heartbroken,

      We’re really glad this post was helpful to you. If you ever want to talk more about your situation, we’re here for you 24/7! Call 1-866-331-9474, click on the chat button or text loveis to 22522.

  13. hey there. i’m having hard time seeing who is the abuser, still feels we’re both doing it wrong. myself quite a messed up person, generally disabled emotionally, with men but not female friends, and mentally (inferiority complex, low concentration) trying to finish coledge at 32 but will i guess collapse cos it’s to late. we had an affair 5 years ago which i left because i could’tn handle myself nor him nor us. great resnetment for my emotional surpression he recognised caused him hacking my facebook and gmail and sending me subliminal messages, love&hate, love&revenge. he is always in long term relationships but can’t stand me being with any guy of social acclaim. we try to flirt but repeating patterns emerge, i lash out and try to hurt him back cos he still never decides for me, hard to control that and i don’t blame him anymore. i tried to play the hacking game and kind of came closer, but… i still don’t handle. he uses everything i say in all sorts of ways to try to influence me in my identity upbuilding and i also react defensive, cant see who to blame. this emotional obsession has become a self defeating strategy with my finishing colledge, hard to control and redirect myself and do not want to blame him. wish i could save us both. save us all.

    1. Hey Kahlan,

      It sounds like a lot is going on in your relationship, and it’s understandable to feel so confused. We’d be happy to help in any way we can. Please get in touch with us by calling 1-866-331-9474, chatting here on our website or texting loveis to 22522!

  14. Sorry this is long, but it is really complicated for me to understand. I know I have control issues myself and I know that I get enraged easily and have a short temper. Even as a child I was always throwing my things (when my parents were not around) and as I got older I began cutting. I haven’t done it in years. Now I’m newly married I love my husband more than anything but ever since the first time I got angry and threw something (not at at him) and he took the water from the kettle and poured it on me it’s been down hill. We recently got into a big blow up because he said he felt like I was shouting at him and he began insulting me calling me names. I left the room with my breakfast and continued from the other room to tell him I felt he was being inconsiderate. He through a glass bowl. This is neither of our first time breaking things. But as I am trying to practice being calm I said “I forgive you” and continued my work. I figured things would die back down and we would go about our day. When I finished he apologized but said it was because I was rude. And I just shrugged it off. I then went in our bedroom where I noticed he broke something very important of mine from a family member. I cried and he came in, I told him that hurt me and went to the bathroom to cry. He came in to give me a hug but I declined and he said that he was just mad because I was rude. I went to go be alone in our bedroom but he wouldn’t let me saying he can’t trust me being alone because about 5 months ago I had an incident where I contemplated cutting again (I didn’t) . After that I completely flipped out. I was shouting and hitting him to leave me alone. And get out but he wouldn’t. I ran room to room trying to get away but he would either unlock the door or threaten to take the handle off. He did that with the bathroom door for months. I ended up slapping his laptop closed and once he though it was broken he got a bucket of water and poured it on me. He then broke my sewing machine it’s a vintage one. I tried to stop him. But it didn’t work. His laptop turned on and it worked and as I was cleaning up my machine crying he told me to stop crying. I know that I am myself abusive. I have accepted that, I see a bruise on his arm where I hit him. I just don’t understand why things are going this far and why I can’t be left to be alone and gain my composure before things escalate. We talked to my parents who have been married 30 years now and they have encouragedus both to work on solid plans to de-escalate these disagreements, have prayed for and with us, and encouraged us to seek counseling bother together and me apart because I have always had issues myself. we have agreed that violence is not allowed anymore and it won’t be tolerated. But I really just need to know if in fact I am a true Abuser? In some ways it doesn’t matter because I need help either way if I want to keep my friendship and relationship with my partner but in another way it’s hard to imagine my self abusing someone I love. I’ve never had this problem in a relationship ever. Typically I’m the person who runs away from the conflict (also not productive) so why am I abusing my husband. If you have any advice or experience with this I appreciate your feedback.

    1. Hi Happybeab,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like a lot is going on, and it’s understandable that you are feeling confused. We’d love to help in any way we can. Please contact us directly for free, confidential 24/7 support: call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522.

    2. I don’t think you’re the abusive one in your marriage. I was in a 12 year on and off relationship with my child’s father. He was physically and mentally abusive. He was also a good liar. He made me doubt my sanity. You mentioned your husband threatened to remove the lock or handle on your door when you needed privacy – that is not okay. My ex took the door off the hinges when I wanted to cry privately. I got mad then. I thought about him pushing me on the bed by my neck and that was too much, it was like he was taking the last bit of my dignity. He was holding the door up trying to balance it, I sort of hip checked it against him. He complained that I bent the door.
      You wanting to separate yourself from the fight is the right thing to do. You know your limits but he is pushing them. It sounds like he wants you to lose your temper. Dumping water on you, breaking a sewing machine because you shut his computer – his behavior is outrageous. You aren’t abusive. If you were, you would never question your actions. If he was really concerned about your safety or you harming yourself he would talk to a doctor or call 911. Using cutting to justify invading your space is wrong. If you were intent on doing it, a door wouldn’t stop you. It’s really great that you have resisted the urge to and you deserve props for that.
      I literally just broke up with my ex last week. This time it has to be for good. You might be able to fix things with your husband. You can’t take the blame though. He needs to own up to his behavior.

      1. Hi Megan,

        Thanks for being part of our community and for offering such kind words of support. You are right; the only person to blame for abusive behavior is the person choosing to be abusive. We hope that you find peace and healing from your previous relationship. If you ever need support, please call, chat or text with us any time!

  15. Ok so heres the thing, ive been abused in every possible way since as long as I can remember until finally just a few years ago, mostly by men and with different types of relationships. Father, babysitter, boyfriends, parents friends, ect. Ive lived a dark destructive life, been to depths of the worst lifestyle, almost died a few times. Ive been on the receiving end of a lot of bad peoples bad choices as well as my own. A few years I made a choice to change my life got treatment for my lifestyle choices moved far away and pick my life up. Now im in a relationship with a man who isnt abusive, but I find that I am being that way. Not physically or sexually but verbally and emotionally. And I believe thats the worse kind because it cuts deeper and stays with you longer. Im quick to anger, im suspicious and insecure, I build walls, call him names and cut him down. I feel emotionally distant like its safer that way but it just hurts us both. I dont have axcess to real counceller but intend to look for resources in my area for some kind of help. I dont want to be this way, dont understand why I am and I want to change. He doesnt deserve this treatment, hes a good guy, and I dont want to hurt him.. I need advice, tips, guidance.. please help me

    1. Hi Desiree,

      My heart breaks to read your story, but you are so brave to reach out for help. Recovering from so much abuse and trauma can be a difficult process, and it sounds like you’ve taken some real steps toward healing yourself. The fact that you are recognizing these behaviors in yourself and want to change is so positive. You absolutely deserve to be in a healthy relationship that is free from abuse, and so does your partner. We would be happy to help you on this journey in any way we can. Please contact us directly any time at 1-866-331-9474, chat here on the website or text loveis to 22522 to speak confidentially with one of our advocates.

  16. This article has helped me so much. I have been 6 weeks no contact with my ex boyfriend. We spent three years together and, at first, it was just emotional and verbal abuse that he inflicted on me. As time went on, he not only would down grade me, but also, when he would get mad, he would destroy things in my home. One night I remember having a whole can of beer dumped on me and the remote being thrown at my head, because I got upset that it was Christmas and was told,by him,that I didn’t deserve a Christmas gift. As time went on I witness him, spitting in my home, breaking things, and displaying huge amounts of disrespect for me and my home. I would constantly go no contact and not speak with him, but he would always come back with promises that he would change and that he did not want anyone else but me. I was hanging onto this tiny thread of hope and would get disappointed every three days, because the disrespect and abuse would start again. About 6 weeks ago, it got physical and he knocked me around my living room. I haven’t spoken to him since. The initial shock was horrific. Then as time went on, I look back and remember my reactions to the abuse throughout the three years we were together and many things I did were unfavorable. So until I stumbled across this post, I have been walking around feeling guilt, that maybe I deserved it. But now I can stand up and say, that no one deserves this! This is not and was not love. Love is about building each other up and bringing out the beauty in your partner, not about bringing out the ugliness!
    My recovery and starting over has been so depressing and scary…but this time I’m walking through the pain and not looking back. I’m going to continue to move forward and live in the beautiful moment of each day.

    1. Hi FM,

      We’re so glad that this article was helpful to you. You absolutely do not deserve to be abused in any way! We understand that it can be very difficult to leave a relationship, even if it was abusive, but it sounds like you are on a journey toward healing. If you ever need additional support, we’re here for you! Call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text loveis to 22522 any time!

  17. I related to everything except for the paragraph about blocking the entrance and shoving. I am usually the one blocking the entrance because I dont want him to leave I want to talk it out and come to a solution. Does this mean Im the abusive one?

    1. Hey Abril,

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for your question! Without knowing more about your relationship, it’s hard to say what’s happening. But typically, preventing your partner from leaving isn’t a healthy thing to do, as your partner has the right to walk away from a situation if they choose. We’d be happy to talk things through with you! Feel free to call, chat or text with us any time.

  18. I can relate to this, I was in an awfully abusive relationship. As a man it’s the hardest thing I have ever had to admit. I’m on the third month of NC… after the initial relief of being free and surviving came ptsd. I was prescribed with prozac but that made me suicidal so I stopped. I’m at the stage of feeling extreme guilty, blaming myself and reflecting on my own actions. But when you’re living with someone who would constantly take from you, put you down, yell at you, throw hot food from the stove and block any possibility of walking away from the situation how can anyone blame me from defending my safety

    1. Hi A.L,

      Thank you for sharing your story here. It sounds like you’ve been through so much, and we’re so sorry to hear that your partner chose to treat you that way. You deserve a relationship with a partner who treats you with kindness, not abuse. We wish you the best on your journey toward healing!

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