"I would never abuse anyone!"



This kind of conversation is a major red flag:

  • Bob: I’m going to go to the mall.
  • Stan: Don’t go to the mall. I want you to stay home.
  • Bob: Um, why not? I need new trousers.
  • Stan: Why are you taking that tone?! Are you saying I’m abusive? You wouldn’t be upset if I wasn’t abusive, so you must think I’m abusing you. I’d never abuse anyone! How dare you?!

Another version:

  • Bob: Could you not make jokes about my weight? It makes me feel bad.
  • Stan: I would never do anything to hurt you! How dare you call this bullying!

It’s especially bad when:

  • It happens every time Stan and Bob want different things.
  • Because it gets to the point where it’s impossible for Bob to say no without accusing Stan of being abusive
  • Or where Bob can’t express a preference that conflicts with Stan’s. 
  • This means that Bob has to always do what Stan wants, or else call Stan a bad person
  • This is an awful way to live

In a mutually respectful relationship:

  • People want different things from time to time
  • People hurt each other in minor ways
  • People make mistakes, and need to be told about them
  • Everyone understands this, and can accept that their friend/partner/whatever wants something different, or is upset about something they did
  • They understand that wanting different things, or being upset about something, is not an accusation of abuse.

If someone close to you claims that you’re accusing them of being abusive every time you have a conflict with them, they probably are, in fact, being abusive.

I was thinking about this more because there are so many ways this applies. One thing I’ve commonly experienced that I think is sort of related to this, is when Person A points out something Person B has said that personally hurts them, Person B will immediately react back to Person A with comments along the lines of, “My anxiety is so bad, how could you start this conflict with me knowing you’re making my anxiety worse?“, or maybe, “I’m having such a hard week, why would you make it any harder for me?” Which effectively turns them into the victim of the situation, when all Person A wanted was to tell Person B to stop hurting them. Manipulating a situation to cause the abuser to appear the victim is a pretty common abuse tactic. I’m not sure if this relates to what you’re talking about, but it’s something I experience a lot.

Oh yeah, that too.

And also manipulative appeals to common identity or experiences.

Like “you’re autistic too, how could you not realize that you’re triggering me by talking to me that way?” (When what you said wasn’t remotely unreasonable).