If I asked any of my mates what they reckon non-physical abuse is, I’d bet you a buck that they’d probably say the same – shouting, abusing, anything confrontational that isn’t physical.
I also bet you a buck that if I told them it can also include anything from checking their partner’s phone, controlling how much they spend or making silly jokes at their partner’s expense, that they’d feel wildly uncomfortable – these types of non-physical abuse are quite common in young couples, so chances are a few people in your group have experienced it.
If you have been around non-physical abuse, you’ve undoubtedly also heard a tonne of excuses that come with it, said by the offending person to trivialise or justify their behaviour. Here are a few examples of excuses for shitty behaviour that we need to stamp out ASAP.
1. “They waste money on stupid stuff.”
Alright, so say you’re in a new relationship, everything’s going swimmingly and you’re starting to talk about money. Perhaps you start to notice they spend a lot of money on things that you wouldn’t buy yourself.
Do we have any say on how we might spend our money as a couple – sure, there’s stuff couples agree to go in on together – but dictating what they can and can’t buy themselves, or taking control of joint finances? Nup.
If we start actively trying to stop our partner from spending money or buying things, we may need to take a step back and consider why it’s an issue and a form of non-physical abuse. Financial freedom is a massive part of our independence and taking that freedom away is disempowering to the point of abuse.
2. “I don’t trust that friend.”
We’ve all dated people who have friends who aren’t necessarily our cup of tea. It’s almost impossible to go your whole dating life loving every person you ever meet. Hell, it’s hard to go a whole day loving every person you meet (looking at you random stranger who unnecessarily took up two seats on the train earlier today).
What we shouldn’t do is try to stop our partners from hanging out with people they find themselves comfortable around – they’ve been friends this long for a reason. Telling a partner not to see someone is just going to make matters worse, and even if we might not necessarily ‘trust’ a particular friend, we should still trust our partner.
3. “Everyone knows I’m only kidding.”
Who hasn’t made a joke at your mate’s expense? A lot of the time, jokes are exactly what we need to get us through a day, or to heal wounds or to laugh at ourselves for silly things we’ve done.
There is a big difference though between ripping on a mate for something trivial and making a joke that puts down or degrades our partner. A bit of food for thought here, our mates don’t think we’re cool for making an off-colour joke about the person we’re supposed to be the closest to.
Aside from often having a lasting negative effect on our partner and throwing off the balance of a mutual, healthy relationship, it’s just kinda tacky.
4. “Religion’s just so outdated.”
Whatever we may personally think of religion, it should never be used as a bargaining chip nor a reason not to date someone. If we don’t necessarily believe in what our partner believes, who cares? If it’s not directly impacting our lives, there’s no reason why we can’t still be in a healthy relationship with someone who has differing opinions.
As soon as we try to make a case for why someone shouldn’t believe in what they do, we’re overstepping our boundaries.
5. “I show them my messages so why can’t they?”
Straight outta the gate, looking at a partner’s phone (unless they’re showing you a funny meme in which case go for gold) is never an option.
It’s kinda like back in the day when people used to keep diaries on actual pieces of paper (weird ey?) – reading their diary is like peeking into someone’s personal life without their consent. The same rule applies to our phones.
Even if we’re super open with our own phones, that doesn’t mean that our partner is going to be so liberal with theirs – “I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours” is never an excuse for being invasive.
6. “I just wanted to make sure they were safe.”
While the intention may be good, following someone or keeping constant tabs on them is again, similar to the phone sitch, a wild invasion of privacy.
Safety factor aside, needing to know where a partner is around the clock is overbearing and the partner isn’t being given that agency to make their own decisions, go where they want to go or see who they want to see.
I dunno, I always think of it like this – if my partner followed me home without me knowing, I’d start to wonder why they thought they couldn’t just talk to me if they were worried about my safety. If that open communication isn’t there, then should I even be dating them?
Anywho, that’s just my two cents.
If you wanna get more across this topic a little more, Our Watch has put together an entire campaign based on non-physical abuse. Check out their website, No Excuse For Abuse, and have a bit o’ a squiz at the vid below:
If you or someone you know has experienced any kind of abuse, sexual assault, domestic or family violence please call 1800RESPECT or visit www.1800respect.org.au.
If you feel you are in any kind of danger please call 000.Image: iStock / gpointstudio