Abusive behaviors continuum

Abusive behaviors can be placed on continuums which span from totally healthy behavior to totally abusive behavior.
  non-abusive -------    -- very abusive 

This spread is one of the things that makes abuse so confusing and complicates determining whether specific behavior is abusive in a specific situation.

Examples of behavior continuums:

clearly non-abusive: warning someone of immediate danger
in the middle:  speaking loudly to press a point
very abusive: loud, aggressive threats or demeaning comments

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Unplanned pregnancy                                         
clearly non-abusive: truly accidental (efforts to prevent pregnancy failed)
in the middle:  irresponsilbe about avoiding pregancy
very abusive: claimed to be accidental, but really on purpose without agreement

Physical attacks 
clearly non-abusive: self-defense
in the middle:  without harm or intention of harm
very abusive: intentionally creating harm or fear of harm 

If there is a cultural tendency to assign women’s actions as most often good, and/or men’s as most often bad, then abuse by a woman against a man may be inappropriately placed on the healthy end of the continuum and wrongfully discounted.   For example, in such circumstances, physical attacks by a woman on a man may be seen as being in self-defense even when they were not.  Similarly, it may be difficult for a man to recognize that he is being abused because the woman's behaviors are mistakenly excused for one reason or another.

©Ann Silvers, MA, LMHC; www.annsilvers.com Ann@annsilvers.com 206-660-9840