A common question that is entered into search engines is “Am I Abusive”? It’s a question that sometimes leads to looking for help or it can be used to fortify a current position in an argument or a belief system.
While it is a provocative question, it might be helpful instead to ask: “Are there things I am doing in my relationship that are abusive or disrespectful that are damaging the relationship?” Even when people behave abusively, they often also behave respectfully at other times; labelling ourselves or someone as “abusive” does not do justice to the complexity of human beings.
To help you decide if there are times in your relationship that you are behaving abusively and/ or disrespectfully, you can ask yourself the following reflection questions:
- Have you ever noticed a look of fear on your partner’s or child’s face in response to something that you have said or done?
- Have you ever had a sense that your partner is afraid of doing something that will upset you, or is afraid of admitting to you that they made a mistake?
- Do you think your partner keeps things to themselves or shares things with other people rather than sharing things with you because they are afraid of your reaction?
- Do you think your partner feels they can be open and honest with you?
- Have you ever done (or said) something where you feel you crossed your own lines of what is acceptable behaviour in a relationship?
- Has your partner ever told you that they feel you are abusive?
- Do you think your partner feels safe with you?
- Has your partner ever responded to something you said or did with an extreme level of emotional pain?
- Have you noticed that over time, your partner seems to be responding to things you say or do with an increasing numbness or lack of emotion?
- Do you ever treat your partner worse when there aren’t other people around? What about the opposite – do you treat them worse when there are other people around?
- Do you feel you have ever humiliated your partner by something you said or did?
- Do you ever notice your partner doing things that make it seem they want to placate you?
- Do you ever worry you are pushing your partner away by the way you treat them?
- Have you ever treated your partner in a way that you later feel ashamed about?
- Do you ever feel a sense of entitlement when you are upset or angry with your partner?
- Do you think you treat your partner in a way that you would not like to be treated?
If you responded “yes” to any of these questions, this may be an indication that you have behaved disrespectfully or abusively. While this may be damaging to your relationship, help is available. Call us anytime at 1-833-327-MENS.