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Where does the line between a bad relationship and abuse go? If you fight or argue a lot does that mean you are being abusive towards each other? It’s both easy and difficult to answer that.
There are some obvious limits; hitting someone or having sex with someone who doesn’t want to is never ok. But raising your voice or calling someone an idiot once needn’t have a negative effect on you and your relationship, it could just be part of a normal argument. But when one person raises their voice and calls the other an idiot every day or several times a week, that’s a form of emotional abuse.
WHEN THE ABUSE IS HIDDEN
People who use abusive behaviour are usually good at hiding it. They may be the kindest person in the world when other people are around or aim the blows at a part of the body where the bruises will be hidden by clothing. Many people who are abused choose not to tell their friends or family, for different reasons, maybe because they worry what the reaction will be.
EXPLANATIONS, EXCUSES AND PROMISES
Most people who use abusive behaviour are not good at taking responsibility for their actions, and they find something or someone else to blame. They might say they were provoked or that they’re hot-tempered and can’t control themselves. They can be manipulative and try to make it look like they’re the ones people should feel sorry for.
– They often say they’re sorry and ask for forgiveness immediately after they have been abusive, and promise it was the last time and that things will be different. Things may get better for a while but unfortunately someone who uses abusive behaviour towards their partner often continues to do so, despite the remorse and promises.
ALL GENDERS CAN BE ABUSERS AND VICTIMS
In most cases, but not all, a boy abuses a girl. Sometimes a girl abuses a boy, or a girl abuses a girl, or a boy abuses a boy. And it is always just as serious. Abuse exists in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships and in relationships with non-binary persons.*
*A person who is non-binary does not identify either as a girl or as a boy.