Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reactive Abuse - What Is It?

Escape


“…stop making out people to be evil if they fight back. Or run away. As in divorce.


You cannot force people to submit to abuse. That is the Sin of Sodom, otherwise known as making someone bend over for it. It violates the Laws of Nature. And common sense.” - Kathy Krajco

If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship like I have, it’s likely your abuser tried to convince you that YOU are the abusive one: that YOU have PMS (a favorite accusation of male partners), YOU are over-reacting, YOU are making it all up,  YOU are the crazy one, that YOU are responsible for all the issues in the relationship, that YOU are the “time-bomb” that explodes on a regular basis. My ex-abuser even called me “Time Bomb” and mocked me about my reactions and responses to his constant abuse during the last 3-3.5 years of our relationship.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that if you’re getting this type of constant blame, mockery, and guilting from a partner in response to any and all issues that arise, you’re in an abusive relationship.

As for your partner’s assertion, yes - you may have sent angry emails or yelled or slammed doors or called names. So your abuser claims YOU were abusing him/her.

But it’s more likely you were REACTING to being abused by your partner. What can make it even more difficult for you to see and understand at this point is that some of their abuse may be subtle and covert rather than obvious and overt. This causes further difficulty for you in identifying the abuse - and makes it easier for your abuser to convince you that it’s all your fault, or the problem is really with YOU - that you’re “crazy”, or “imagining things”.

They’ll abuse you, and when you react to that abuse, they accuse YOU of abusing THEM and they play the victim role. They don’t call it “crazymaking” for nothing!

This is the stage at which an abused partner often describes as being in the “fog” of abuse. Their abusive partner has guilted them in to accepting ALL blame for the issues in the relationship, and caused them to doubt their own perceptions of the mistreatment they’re receiving.

It’s not at all unusual for a person in an abusive relationship to REACT abusively. This does not mean YOU are the abuser, that you are crazy, have PMS etc. etc. — though the abusive partner will try to convince you that YOU are THE problem and will often succeed in guilting you into believing it. I believed it for a LONG time before I began to recognize and question the pattern of abuse and the subsequent constant blame for the abuse, and worse, the ensuing mockery because I dared respond at all to having been hurt by it.

An interesting thing to note is that an abusive partner will often be very calm when you are upset and angry. This is because when they have finally succeeded in causing your reaction of hurt, upset or anger, then THEY are in power and control over you. THIS is what abuse is about: POWER and CONTROL. And like a drug addict, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that feeling of power and control. Abusers are very disordered people in this way.

The important thing for you to know is that this relationship and this person is toxic, unhealthy, and you need to get out of it and away from this person ASAP. They are emotional vampires, sucking away from you every iota of self-esteem and spirit you ever had. (then they will complain when you have none!)

If someone can drive you to be so upset on a regular basis (and abusers are experts at this - it gives them the sense of superiority, power and control they absolutely LIVE for) then the best thing to do is GET OUT and have NO FURTHER contact with that toxic person, if it is possible for you to do so.

The thing with abusers is that they are pathologically backwards people.

Lundy Bancroft touches on this in his book. Abusive, toxic people only consider and notice THEIR own feelings and their partner’s behavior. They never, EVER consider or notice their PARTNER’S FEELINGS and their own behavior.

When they’re abusive, (verbally, emotionally, sexually, physically, financially - covertly or overtly) it is always someone else’s fault. When their partner/victim finally reacts to that abuse with anger or upset at having been abused - then that is their partner/victim’s fault too.

In their minds, it never gets down to their OWN behavior and how it affects their partner’s feelings. They like to pretend that isn’t relevant, or anything they should ever be responsible for. They ALWAYS lack empathy for their partners (beyond the early “romance” stages when they’re trying to pull you in). This lack of empathy is the mark of the beast of abuse - more than anything else.

Here’s some information that may also help explain this “reactive abuse” concept a little more:

How do you know that you are not the one who is crazy or PMS’ing and that he is really emotionally abusive?

Answer:

You are being abused if:

(1) He repeats a certain bad behavior (ie: pattern of behavior).

(2) You asked him to stop (for whatever reason) and...

(3) He refuses and continues to behave the way he has.
You may well be abusing him - but that does not mean that he is not being abusive towards you. Both parties are sometimes abusive towards each other.

People who are abusers rarely consider that they might be abusive. Even if the stresses of the relationship lead into what might be considered reactive abuse, anyone who honestly tries to adjust to the other person’s actual needs, actively listens to the other person, and makes every attempt to stop such behavior, probably is not an abuser.

Abusers do not take responsibility for their own actions, and in fact often blame the abused. When the abused person reacts to the abuse, the abuser calls that reaction abuse, and will use guilt to try to get the abused to feel responsible for the arguments or difficulties, as well as for the abuser’s actions.

This is one of the reasons getting away from an abuser is so important. Everything clarifies then.

SOURCE



While this article is written with the male as an abuser, your abuser may well be female!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:03 AM


Share

27 Comments:

Excellent article!

1:01 PM  

Thank you for your very clear explanation of reactive abuse.

I had some undesireable behaviors, like some yelling and door slamming in response to my husband's verbal abuse. I changed them and he became more abusive.

He tells me that I provoke his name calling. I know better.

Jennie

http://nomoreverbalabuse.blogspot.com

11:29 PM  

Thank you for this. I was abused by a NArrastic male who pretends to have Asbergers... to trap unsuppecting women wit spouses who do have AS.
He is a true psychopath NArasstic (so my suppprt group and therapist) told me and helped me understand. Still there was questions I didn't have answers for. Like how did he and his frieds with benefits manage to get me to react to their abuse everytime. I carried so much anger and disappointment within myself. It took a lot of work in forgiving myself. I managed too but had I known this even a year ago... it would have made the journy much easier.

Thank you from the bottem of my heart.

10:17 AM  

"An interesting thing to note is that an abusive partner will often be very calm when you are upset and angry. This is because when they have finally succeeded in causing your reaction of hurt, upset or anger, then THEY are in power and control over you. THIS is what abuse is about: POWER and CONTROL. And like a drug addict, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that feeling of power and control. Abusers are very disordered people in this way."

That is totally how it was in my 20 year marriage to an emotionally, mentally and verbally abusive man.
Even today as I have filed for divorce he tells people that I was the abusive person, I have an anger management problem, not him.

I tried so hard not to react, but eventually it would still happen and I often began to think that I truly was the abusive one. But I now realize that this is all part of their game. It's about power and control, and my almost-ex still does it.

12:13 PM  

Thank you so much for this article. So many terms to describe things but it all boils down to the fact that we aren't ALLOWED to say that some people are born without a conscience and therefore cannot feel love, empathy, disgust or shame. Dr. Robert Hare says something like they know the words but not the music.

The above comment by Amy is so precious to me. I too truly thought I was the angry person. What I finally realized is that I wanted to face issues head on and resolve them or get help. Basically, get to the TRUTH and deal with it. This can never happen with a psychopath/narcissist/passive-aggressive etc. as THERE IS NO TRUTH IN THEM!(John 8:44) They desire chaos and strife.

There's an article (The Psychopath/Psychopaths and rational morality by Jonah Lehrer) explaining how in some cases a psychopaths blood pressure will actually go DOWN when they are angry and abusive. Horror after horror when you finally are able to see/say the truth about these people.

12:30 PM  

This article described perfectly and to a "T" my 24 year relationship with my ex NH. This is what I lived with day in and day out. He still tells people that I'm an abuser and I have rage problems when clearly it was HIM. I'm so glad I'm away from him.

8:04 AM  

I made many mistakes with my X, including being unfaithful, slapping him, and throwing things. He did tell me that I was abusive, he said it like a threat, like he was going to turn me in to someone. The final straw was when he threw a dishful of food at my stepdaughter and then rushed across the room to pin her on the ground. I hit him on the back to make him get off her, but he said he was calling the cops because I had hit him. He said that I would be taken to jail and that I would never see my kids again, that I had been abusive to him. I can't believe I bought it, but I did. I still feel ashamed about my own behaviors while we were married, nothing will change that, but I know now that maybe I was driven to it. Sometimes I wish he had just beaten me, it would have made it so much easier to leave.

11:02 PM  

Are you saying here that if they try to stop, then they are not an abuser? Even if the abuse starts again in two weeks at the most, but more than likely in two days?

If that is so, I feel really bad about myself. I guess it is all my fault after all? Help!

8:53 AM  

NO Anonymous - that is not what this article is suggesting at all. You misread.

Read this:
http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.com/2007/03/abusive-behavior-have-they-really.html

You are NOT at fault. Abusers CHOOSE To abuse.

1:07 AM  

Thank you Barbara for your reply. It does say though is that if the abuser truly attempts to stop, then they are not abusing. He has truly attempted many times...

12:56 PM  

Ok- please ignore my last comment. I just read the link, and I am clearer now. My problem is that no matter how much reading I do on this, I still always take him back. I am trying so hard to break this cycle!

1:09 PM  

Reactive Abuse is something the VICTIM does as a "reaction" to the abuse.

If he really tried to stop, he'd leave. He stops long enough to "honeymoon" you. I will put an article up for you.

12:39 AM  

I can identify with this reactive abuse.For 5 yrs I had been in a relationship with a man who very cleverly and covertly manipulated and abused me.Only a matter of weeks ago I discovered he was sleeping with his ex ,a woman he had put through the ringer before me.I was expected to go quietly like a good girl. I showed up at a bar where he plays pool to have words....this was a gift to him he was the victim of this unreasonable woman. Out side the bar I ran after him and fell badly cracking my head he just looked at me said "I'll just leave you there"then just walked away.Now I reacted to his behaviour but for all the world to see I was the "mad" one! From now on its NC.

6:25 AM  

I have had 3 abusive relationships two of them marriages. I am just lost right now and I swear if I am happy he is angry. There are so many days I just wish I was dead. I changed my insurance to my kids names. jic. I do everything he says and it continues. If I remotely look sideways I am hit with everything and more that you have said. Last time it blew up huge huge, he stepped on and crush and crushed my foot till it stress crushed fracture and it still hurts. I just got a great job, not huge money, but a good job, going to try to finish my degree and get myself together despite this and focus on positives till ...I can't even think that far. I know I can't live like this.

6:31 PM  

hi. good article. i learned from it. but i was wondering if you could focus more on intersex abuse and not just male on female violence. the problem is not so much with men as it is with people who cannot control their agression. men receive plenty of abuse from women, too. it's not men or women just the society in general who promotes sexual imbalance and bending. thanks.

3:51 PM  

This article really helped. My ex is abusive and no one that I hung around believes be. They say I nagged him, i talked down to him and i was stubborn. He just recently left me while I was 6 months pregnant for his best friends ex. The day before he got with her he was trying to convince me to not put him on child support. He tried to tell me she means nothing, she is a friend, she is nothing more and even told me im over reacting. There was an incident at the apartment we shared. His other friend was spending the night. I was around 8 weeks. We were tickling each other and playing......the "honeymoon" phase once again. He told me to atop tickling him, he seemed like he was joking. He kicked me so hard I fell and hit me head on the wall, putting a dent into the dry wall..i went into the living room completely crying and in pain. His friend just went and yelled at him. Before that he had our black and blue bruises on my arms and there were hand prints on my things from where he had continuously slapped them. I WOKE UP IN PAIN! He apologized and said I didn't think you would bruise so easily because you are so BLACK......later that night I went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out. He asked "concerned" what's wrong? I lied and said i was a little emotional. After that i left....no im trying to leave him alone. Im 7 months now....he says he will take my child...hes saying I am mentally unfit to be a mother...thank you for writing this article...it really helped me see what things are.

12:15 PM  

What a relief, I felt like I was literally going crazy/mentally ill before I read this web page... This helped me understand some root causes to my relationship problems, and is now helping me reinstate confidence in myself, thank you for sharing this great info!!

12:32 PM  

I feel your pain people. My boyfriend tells me my feelings are unjust and i am way out there when i have an episode. He tells me to act right and he will treat me right. However, i know its the other way around. He invites his friends over and then starts to push my buttons, although no one notices because they dont know the things that upset me. For example, ever since our son was born i like to keep late company strictly on the weekends. Late nights are not normal during the week and i dont want our son to think it is. So when he is in one of his moods, he will invite 2/3 people over around 11:45 that stay until 3 a.m. to play video games. He knows what to expect. Im polite tge first few Times i mention the time. By the time 1 oclock strikes, im full blown bi"#h mode. He stays collected the entire time saying how sorry he feels for me as his crew talks down on me calling me a psychopath. None of them have children, not one. Then by the time they leave im in tears asking him why he does this to me. I will barely get to sleep when he gets into bed, just to start kissing my neck and rubbing my back. Lime i want anything to do with him. I know if i dont give in, though, he will be cold and cruel all day. When i cant take him degrading me any longer and i make a stand,he gets physical. Sometimes i tell him he is a serial killer that has yet to come out of the closet. Its difficult because i have no family at all. No place to turn to if i did leave. I am a stay at home mom. He is my lifeline. My son has began to say mean things to me too. He says he doesnt love me he loves his dad that he cant stand me and hates my guts.he is 2. Its heart breaking. Its crushing me.

2:34 PM  

Hello thankyou for your page,ivé been studying this behaviour for aprox 12 months while i was in my relationship and i wasn't even aware that he had a name,i was confused and hurt and thought i was going mad and everytime i defended myself i was being blamed for everything and that i was in fact the abuser,at some times i was starting to question myself,i know im no angel and i did stand up to him and said some pretty nasty things back to him but i felt defensive and angry that someone who claims they love you can treat you like that!Now i feel so much more at ease that i actually suffered from reactive abuse,i just didn't have a name for it but i knew in my heart i didn't start the fights i was merley reacting to his verbal and emotional abuse and the amount of times i tried to talk to him about his anger issues he would just project it on me saying i cant talk to you(that used to confuse me so much because i was the only one who actually approached him numerous times to talk and only hearing him say back to me-i dont want to!(im not a communicator)the numerous people he would run to and talk behind my back was so degrading and humialting,his family and friends were amazed why he was with someone like me and i was being judged,but at most times they were even acting confused as they would tell me how good i was for him and that they liked me alot,ivé never been in this situation before in my life and recently i left after 4 yrs of being in a yoyo relationship,i will never put myself in that position again and feel at peace with myself and no matter who they meet they will always remain the same,i was so tired of the yelling and screaming,and speeding in the car,the gambling,pot and booze and infidelity,one day ill meet someone who id worthy with showing there love and empathy,i look forward to leading a normal life now :-)

11:24 PM  

It's also the reason he does everything he can to make sure he's the number one thing on your mind - he makes sure he does not give you the mental space, or peace, you need to see things clearly. He knows that his hold over you requires that he keep you near.

6:10 AM  

"An interesting thing to note is that an abusive partner will often be very calm when you are upset and angry. This is because when they have finally succeeded in causing your reaction of hurt, upset or anger, then THEY are in power and control over you. THIS is what abuse is about: POWER and CONTROL. And like a drug addict, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that feeling of power and control. Abusers are very disordered people in this way."

That is totally how it was in my 20 year marriage to an emotionally, mentally and verbally abusive man.
Even today as I have filed for divorce he tells people that I was the abusive person, I have an anger management problem, not him.

I tried so hard not to react, but eventually it would still happen and I often began to think that I truly was the abusive one. But I now realize that this is all part of their game. It's about power and control, and my almost-ex still does it.
-------
Same here for me 13 years of covert abuse . He tried to convince me i was the abuser or mentally unstable. even crazy. the worst part to me is not being able to make him see that he has the problem. Not that I don't have areas to improve. but i tried SO hard and still try to do what i am suppose to do. but now when i am with him the anger i have when we are around ppl and he is just this perfect guy everyone loves him makes me crazy. People don't understand abuse unless it is like in the movies with someone yelling and screaming and throwing things calling you names, but at the end of the day when you relate just the same to the women or men who go through that type of abuse... it is still abuse!

6:19 PM  

I have been in a relationship exactly like this for 13 years. My husband accuses me of being crazy, addicted to anger, mentally unstable, never happy and the abusive one. I am really starting to believe it. The root of our problem is a totally disconnected and zero effective communicative relationship. If the kids are misbehaving and not listening to him, I get blamed for "spoiling them". If I don't give him money to buy something he wants ( he claims he can't work because of his back), he starts raging. I remember that after my mom died, he knew I inherited some money. The first thing he does is plans out all these things he "needs", namely a $14,000 boat. Well, I put my foot down and said no. Boy, was that the wrong answer. He started going off on me and called me a selfish bitch, control freak, some other choice names. This is only one incident. Well, of course, I stand up for myself and tell him he is a abusive p.o.s and how selfish he is and I just throw it to him. Every time I fight back, I know in my mind that it will make things worse for me. He will just start a round of crazy making and gas lighting to make me feel like I'm the bad person. I have called him out on a lot of his misbehaviors and maltreatment towards me. He will dismiss things that totally upset me, for example smoking pot at our home, bringing people into our house to buy pot when the kids are here, abusing the dog if she poops in the house. Yea, I get super pissed off by his behavior and I shoot off my mouth. When I do, he calls me names and tells me to "f" off and stop being such a bitch. He tells me it's no big deal and be wont stop what he enjoys. He 'll twist things around to make himself look like he is the victim. He will say he busts his ass all day long. but the truth is, he doesnt. when my daughter is in school all day, he does nothing but dink in his garden and tells me what a hard job it is to feed our family. For example, he has not worked for the last 10 years of our 13 year relationship. When I come home tired and the house is a mess and he doesn't have to work, I expect him to do his share. If I say something, he will go off on me and tell me how ungrateful I am that I have someone home to take are of my daughter, and how much he is saving me in daycare fees and I unappreciative I am that he has to cook and clean while I'm at work. That if I stayed home, I wouldn't even do as good a job as he does. But when I come home, I still have to clean up the mess he made in the kitchen after cooking dinner, make sure daughter has her homework done,make her lunch, take her to sports practice, grocery shop, do laundry, pay the bills and all that jazz. But he saids I'm ungrateful. Maybe I am and I should just shut my mouth. See, I'm feeling like I'm the abusive one. I can't even pinpoint why I feel the way I do anymore. I think the crazy making he does to me is set up these situations where I think he is being decent and than side swipe me. When he is feeling particularily generous, he would say things like oh if ÿou need any help during the day with grocery shopping, let me know. Well, when it actually comes doing it, he will be so resistant and difficult that I just end up doing it myself. Like the other day, he wanted to drive out to the country and pick something up. Well, after we did that, I asked if we could stop off at the store to pick up some groceries.after all we were going right by it on the way home. He instantly started raging at me and said he wasn't gonna go out of his way and he was tired of dealing with traffic, and he just wanted to go straight home and how dare I make him wait while I grocery shopped. Blind sided. All. The.Time. Than I start in on him because I can't stand it. It's a shame.i should just shut my mouth. But how hurtful and humiliating. A simple request to stop off at a grocery store for convenience sake and I get that. I can go on and on.

6:03 AM  

Wow. This article helps. I am getting divorced because my husband put a profile on a Philippine dating site, then knocked himself out dating a sleeping with young girls during a 3 week trip to the Philippines. Guess whose fault that was? Mine! Because after 5 years of him isolating himself, emotionally stonewalling me because he "couldn't handle my anger,"I told him I thought we should go our own ways once our children were grown. He says if I hadn't said that,, his infidelity never would have happened. He loves to go off about what a dedicated husband and father he was in the first 10 years of our marriage and how I drove him away with my anger.

11:42 AM  

I am very relieve to have read this article. I had never hear this term Reactive Abuse but it spoke to me immediately. I have been becoming progressively worried about myself over the past 2 years, as I find that I get angry and upset, unreasonaly. This all happens in the contect of my family of origin, where I am the eldest. We have had two v elderly parents until last year when we lost my Mum. I really go out of my way to do a lot for them..in fact too much..as coming from a para medical background I have the inside information. At some point all of my sibling have turned on me, and in this has happened to a greater or lesser extent with the permission of my parents, who complain about me behind my back and accuse me of bulling them, being a control freak and a domineering and overbearing person. I am quite exhausted from all of this. My Father is a very manipulative man, and does not want to lose any of hsi 6 adult children, even though he has seen me have to call the police to one of my brothers. He claims inability to cope...and I suppose at 88 he has every right...however he then feeds these abusive sibling a negative feed on me when I do meet his Exact requirement and they then turn on me. It has now come to the point where I have withdraw feeling very hurt from my Father. My only sister takes him over, and she has always given me a very difficult life. She is younger, single, and very self centred. She will not give me the light of day. I know that I am enmeshed in the most horrible situation, and that in my efforts to deal with my Father,in refusing to collude with him , I end up getting his back up...and he is turn calls in the troops. It never ceases to amaze me that we are all in our 40/50's and there is very little care or compassion going around. My Mother passed last August and I really miss her...she knew how to pull my stings but was less covertly manipulting than my Father. We are all grieving in different ways, and my Father wants everything clearned up as soon as possible, and I cannot meet with this requirement as I am just not ready. Then I am given a deadline. At this point I feel I hate my whole family and wish I never had to see any of them again. They are a mob of viciousness. I had hoped to be able to help my Father but am now coming to the conclusing that if I am to keep my emotional stability I have to stand back from him as otherwise he will use my sibling to abuse me if he does not get his way. He does not complain about my brothers as they do not get involved with his emotional needs, and my sister stokes his mean behaviour to her own ends. I am now trying to get my own emotions under control as I can take no more. I went to the extent of phoning my health services and speaking with their elder abuse officer as I am so upset at the allegations made against me on no grounds. Thank you.

4:14 AM  

Great article, this is such an insidious part of the abusive relationship that takes so long to realise and usually when you've separated. My ex did this to me subtle covert manipulation and of course I reacted...sometimes I really thought it was me. I felt so bad, guilty and ashamed. Even when I knew somehow he'd created it at the time I couldn't see it...now he's left I look over my long years with him and see it all...as they say physical scars heal but the emotional manipulation is much harder. Thanks for this blog it makes me feel so much better.

5:40 AM  

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this article!! I am going to court tomorrow and am being accused of posting stuff like this on my Facebook page to hurt or discredit or damage my abusers reputation. This person was actually "foolish" enough to say..."I think what is being posted is about ME!". All I do is post these articles to hopefully save someone else from it happening or let them know they are not alone much less CRAZY!! My main appreciation though about this article is...you do not specify "HE/SHE". I will clearly and confidently post this to my page!! THANK YOU!!!

7:45 PM  

The story you just wrote it's my daily life

8:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home