A lot of people, both men and women, have experienced abuse within a relationship. However, many of these people struggle to come to terms with the fact that they were abused. While we typically think of physical abuse when we think of domestic violence, we don’t often pay enough attention to forms of abuse that do not involve one partner physically injuring their signficant other. Inappropriate displays of anger, while they do not always physically harm the other party, may be considered to be abuse.
Threatening behavior isn’t okay, even if it’s not a threat of physical violence. A common example is, “If you do (insert behavior here), I will leave you.” Most of the time, threats are used to control a significant other. Though the reasons for the control may vary from person to person, your partner should never be attempting to leverage your regard for them in order to manipulate you into compliance. Blackmailing is also a form of threatening behavior that should not be tolerated in a relationship. It should be noted that threatening doesn’t have to be verbal; a significant other holding their fist at their partner or brandishing a weapon is also threatening, even if words aren’t spoken.
There’s a fine line—albeit blurry—between asserting boundaries and being controlling. We so often see people in relationships engage in all sorts of controlling behavior then immediately clutch their pearls and screech “it’s just my boundaries!” at the top of their lungs. Jonah Hill recently came under fire when his ex-girlfriend leaked text messages of him telling her that she cannot hang out with her male friends, post pictures of her in swimsuits on Instagram, and more. When she pushed back, he manipulated her by claiming it was just his boundaries and that he was considering ending the relationship. Here’s a good rule when determining whether or not a boundary is being controlling: Boundaries revolve around your behavior; control revolves around managing someone else’s behavior. Men far too often write off controlling behavior as “asserting boundaries” when, in reality, they’re trying to control their female partners in order to manage their own insecurities. It needs to be said that, although this is typically a male behavior since, many men lack the emotional intelligence necessary to recognize and admit when they’re feeling insecure and inadequate—likely a byproduct of harmful gender norms from the past—women are also capable of engaging in this behavior.
Sometimes people throw things while they’re angry because they’ve truly lost control. Though this is less insidious than other explanations, it’s still a sign of an inability to control oneself when angry. If your partner genuinely cannot control their temper, they may need specialized help. In many situations, the person throwing things actually does have control over their temper. In situations like this, the person is throwing things in order to intimidate the other party. Using physical displays of anger is never a good sign, especially when it’s done for the sole purpose of exerting control over another person.
Shoving and Grabbing
Your partner should never put his or her hands on you in an argument. A lot of people say that being shoved or grabbed is different when the person who’s shoving or grabbing is a woman. While a woman is less likely to harm a man with physical strength alone, such behavior is still unacceptable because it demonstrates a serious lack of restraint when it comes to anger, and a lack of respect. While behaviors like shoving and grabbing don’t normally leave bruises, they often intimidate and frighten others. If your partner is attempting to scare you into dropping the conversation or agreeing with them during an argument, that’s a bad, bad sign. Unfortunately, it happens often.
At best, punching something demonstrates that a person does not have control over their anger. At worst, it means that they’re trying to control you by scaring you into compliance. Either way, punching things in anger is not a normal behavior, and it should not be treated as such. We far too often ignore warning signs that a person has a problem simply because they punched a wall and not another person. However, people who don’t have anger problems do not normally feel the need to punch holes in walls or punch other items.
These types of behaviors are not okay. While only you can decide whether or not a relationship should end due to your significant other’s behavior. If you need help leaving, resources are available to you.