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Author Topic: When is it a fight, and when is it abuse?

March 28, 2020, 03:51:39 PM
Read 562 times


Hi all,

I will keep the backstory brief - I am in the process of getting divorced, and during the the time I met someone who I really clicked with. We dated for about 8 months, and it was wonderful. She was kind, caring, warm...but had significant emotional baggage from her previous relationships. Around Valentines day I met my (ex)wife for coffee (in a public space) to discuss the final practicalities of finalising the divorce, and getting the last of my things from her. She has been taking the entire process really badly, and I felt like a complete piece of trash, so I gave her some flowers. We have always been on good terms since the divorce proceedings started, and things were always civil even if they were very emotional for both of us.

My girlfriend knew I was getting divorced. At the start of our relationship she said that if certain things happen, that don't have an impact on our relationship but will hurt her, I should rather not tell her about it. So, stupidly I didn't tell her about seeing my ex - but someone else allegedly saw it, and two weeks later she got "an anonymous Facebook message" from someone she doesn't know who told her about it. I never saw this message, she claims to not recall the pseudonym of the person who sent it, and claims to have deleted it. I don't know if she accessed my phone and made up the story of the FB message, but it doesn't really matter.

I then made the mistake of initially lying to her about it, and then admitting everything a few moments later. I apologised profusely and admitted I made a mistake, and didn't try to make excuses for it.

She completely lost it with me. I was subjected to the worst verbal tirade I have ever experienced in my life. The 11 years I spent with my ex, we never, ever had a fight like this. Not even close to. Her words to me where as follows: (I may be leaving some things out, there was a lot of it, but these are the parts I clearly remember).

"I hate you.
You are a liar and a fucking asshole.
You aren’t half the man (my ex) is.
Fuck off out of my life, and fuck off out of my house.
If you don’t leave, I will call security to remove you.
And if that doesn’t work, I will call the police to arrest you.
Don’t touch me, and don’t even dare to look at me.
If you touch me, or even think of contacting my family, I will get a restraining order against you.
And then I will tell your employer about it.
You are such a liar, and a piece of shit.
I will have to get an HIV test first thing in the morning because of you.
I am glad you don’t have a gun on you, because you are making me feel very unsafe right now.
You remind me of Oscar Pistorius."

Throughout this entire process I didn't say a word. I was completely shellshocked and in the emotional equivalent of the fetal position. I recall something of blubbering apologies to her, but not much else. When she told me I make her feel unsafe, I broke. I spent the night on the couch (something that has never happened to me ever before in any of my relationships), and was out of the house the first thing in the morning.

Fast-forward a few days, and I was going to her house to make the breakup final - and she physically clung to me to prevent me leaving. It was a complete about-turn from her behaviour immediately prior to me wanting to end things (I for all intents and purposes considered us to be over and done, considering her numerous messages telling me she thinks it is better if we both went our separate ways). Now, I admit I messed up - if she told me she was very angry and hurt, and that she doesn't want to see me for a few days I would have understood. But I cannot help but think that her reaction was vastly disproportionate to the perceived offence.

Yes,she was in a very emotional space after having lost a family member the week before. But I was always there to support her and provide for her emotional needs - I literally dropped everything I could and bent over backwards to be there for her and her family. Because I wanted to and because I love her. She never mentioned the fact that I did.

Additionally I feel manipulated into going back into the relationship when I really need time and space to figure out what happened: things don't feel the same for me after this fight, and I emotionally disinvested in the relationship due to it. She doesn't understand why I don't want to move on - "all couples have fights", "you really hurt me very badly", "why are you breaking up with me? What did I do to you to deserve this treatment?", "Do the things I do for you not matter at all? I let you into my life and this is what I get?" etc.

Lastly, I have never (and will never) use the type of language I received on anyone I am in a relationship with. Not even when talking to or referring to an ex.

I don't think a situation where a person can speak like this to someone they claim to deeply love is healthy at all. Bear in mind, I admit I made a mistake - and I felt terrible about it, and wanted to make amends any way I could, but this episode pushed me away so far and so fast, that I just cannot bring myself to feel adequate remorse for my actions.

March 28, 2020, 06:26:35 PM
Reply #1


Hi Keiser!

First of all, thanks for sharing your story!

From what i understand, you're not a bad person and I don't think you deserved to be treated this way.
"I just cannot bring myself to feel adequate remorse for my actions" : and I think you should not worry anymore, because your actions should have not caused this reaction from her.
"she doesn't understand why I don't want to move on" : it seems like she only thought about her own pain, but didn't try to understand your feelings at all. It's only about her, and her reaction from the truth. What about you and your reaction from the hurtful things she said? She doesn't seem to care about it. What I'm trying to say is, if communication doesn't exist in those moments, then it can't work.

I don't think you should feel the remorse and guilt she wants you to feel. You did make a mistake but didn't deserve this reaction. Even though, she is having a tough time with grief, this really doesn't mean she has a right a treat you this way.
What I would add is, if she can react this way once, maybe when there will be an other fight, she would say the same words or worse.

We make the best choices the moment when we have to. I think you did your best choice, mate.

With Love,

« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 06:33:40 PM by LilyPouille »
Live. Just live.

March 31, 2020, 02:11:29 AM
Reply #2


Okay, so when is a relationship abuse and when is not is a fine line. For example if its a one time emotionally blowout because she has been cheated on before and she overreacts, that's one thing. But it sounds like she never apologized and instead went from two different extremes. Being accused of making a women feel unsafe is a serious thing to be accused of in this day and age. For her to not apologize or acknowledge that but instead go to super clingy lovey mode, is a sign that she is emotionally volatile.

Imagine if you got divorced with this current girlfriend, do you think she would be handling it as fairly and rationally as your ex?

from your own language it sounds like coercion. You said in your own words, shouldn't I have had space to think through what happend?

Patterns of using guilt to get people to comply is emotional abuse. This shows signs of an abusive relationship. I know this is a tough time for you. I'm sorry you are going through this, I know its all very confusing but please understand. None of this is personal, yes you made a mistake, but you also had to see your ex and you did not cheat and she did ask to not know.

You made a mistake but do not deserve this kind of behavior.
Professional relationship coach, who enjoys blogging about the Complexities of dating and relationships.


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