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Am I guilty of inflicting emotional abuse ?

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Old 01-27-2011, 08:38 AM   #1
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Unhappy Am I guilty of inflicting emotional abuse ?

I came from an abusive home. My mother had emotional and mental disorder, in fact I suspected she had a borderline personality disorder.

But my siblings and I learned to cope with this not letting her go on with this by either arguing back to her and letting her know why she was wrong. As we got older we all left the house. Still we made sure she was taken care of.

I believe this was just one of the things we learn ---- how to stand up for yourself against people who inflict emotional distress. By the way, none of the confrontation became physical, just words.

The general motto in the family is that you do not let people to push you around. As you would imagine, my siblings and I are considered feisty people. Also growing up in a city filled with crimes, I learned to protect myself. I became street smart.

Growing in this kind of home, I kept most of this inside me. My frustrations, the pains.....I would go in a room and cry. I will not allow anyone to see the inside of me. For me this is just a normal life.

Fast forward to my adult life.

In all my long term relationships, all of my girlfriends came from abusive home. For the longest time, I did not quite make the connection as to why. Finally realized that I myself came from an abusive home and having a girlfriend with similar background was really my comfort zone.

I am very conscious not to follow my mom's footsteps in regards to dealing with people. Control, abusive language, angry. In fact I consider myself to be very calm. But one trait I have is that I tend to be argumentative. Growing in a big family, one has to. Though with my girlfriend, I tend to back off a lot as I feel that I am too strong inside that I feared that I will scare them away.

My most recent girlfriend, she had told me on numerous occasion that she was emotionally abused. I have witnessed some behavior that I am completely unfamiliar with. One time, we were hiking, she twisted her ankle. I told her that I will go to the car to get a cane to help her hike back to the car. I left and when I came back, she was crying. I asked her what happened, she told me that she thought I left her there for good. I was really baffled but reassured her I will never do such thing.

Our relationship for most part had been great. Though there were occasions while in a middle of a friendly argument, she will burst out crying. As an example, I found out she did not have medical insurance. She told me she can not afford to buy one. I offered to help her by paying for her premium. She refused. But I continued on by arguing the importance of having medical insurance. As I was trying to make my point, she just cried and walked away from me. The following day, I asked her if she was still mad at me...she said yes. Again I tried to explain my point of view, she told me she did not want to talk about it anymore. So I left it at that.

Then one evening, we went home after being out shopping. She had her dog in my house together with my dogs. But we never introduced the dogs to each other, instead we take them out one by one. But a mistake was made when we both let our dogs out at the same time. My dog attacked her dog. One of my dogs locked on her dogs leg. As I tried to separate the dogs, my other dogs started to attack her dog. I shielded her dog from further attacks by wrapping her dog around me. As a result I was bitten several times on my arm, quite severely. Finally I was able to separate them.

I went upstairs to check on her and her dog. She was crying as expected. I realized the bite wounds her dog sustained was very minimal. We both agreed to bring her dog to the vet anyways.

I went downstairs to lock up my dogs when suddenly she told me she was leaving to go to her mom. Then she told me that one of my dogs got hurt but as he had blood in his mouth. I told her he was not, the blood came from my arm. I asked her to wait for me, but she refused. I again asked her...again she said no.

I was already in a very agitated mode because of my dogs attacking her dog, being attacked by my own dogs. I was in a fighting mode. I felt I was just in a fight. But all this time, I kept my voice down....we never yelled or screamed at one another.

Again I asked her to wait, again she refused. As my anger and frustration overcame me, I resorted to a coping mechanism suggested in my prior psychology class in college ---- I directed my frustration and anger by kicking at luggages in my garage. Then I realized I scared her so I stopped.

She then left the house.

As I tried to control my frustration and anger, I felt that she was leaving me for good. I started to panic. I tried to calm myself down by driving for a few hours. Then I called her to let her know my frustration and I was a bit hurt by the fact that she did not even seem to care if I was ok after getting bitten by the dogs. I told her that I needed to go away for awhile to think about her and me.

After I got back to my senses, I called her that evening to explain and apologize for my actions. She then informed me that she wanted to break up. As we started discussing as to why, she stated that she can't live with my anger and my reckeless lifestyle (oops where did this come from). As I started discussing this with her, she cut me off and said she needed to sleep. I pushed for us to discuss this now.....I only made her angrier.

The following day, I called her and she responded in a calm voice. Then I started talking about our relationship, she again cut me off and said she had to go.

Later that evening, I decided to pursue this by showing up at her work. I waited for her outside. She saw me but did not acknowledge my presence. She even had to ask her coworker to walk her to her car. Wow, why is she treating me like a lunatic. As I approached her, she told me it was over and she did not want to talk with me. She drove away but I followed her car. She started to drive reckelesslly. So reckless that she ran her car into a curb blowing up her two front tires. She stopped. I then approached her vehicle.....she was hysterical and crying uncontrollably. I was very shocked. But soon I realized the mistake I had done. I tried to calm her down, but she became even more hysterical. I tried to reassure her I was not going to hurt her. So I told her to call her mom but I will stay around as she was in a very isolated and dark place. Her mom came together with the cops. I was arrested for domestic violence.

As I tried to get some understanding with the events that I mentioned, I had sought help by talking to a psychologist about the events. I understand that my show of anger scared her. I also understand that my childhood trauma of being abandoned also played into my emotional state.

I am still trying to get a grasp of what had happened. As adults, are we not allowed to get angry ? Are we not allowed to blow our top off once in a while ?
Am I guilty of emotional abuse to my girlfriend ? What could I have done differently ?

My pain inside is not so much about the breakup of our relationship. But truthfully, my pain inside is because of the guilt that I have harmed my emotionally girlfriend even more. How do I make up for this ?

Sometimes, we do things to people we care, that we are not aware is hurting our loved ones. I had no intention of harming her. Even today, I do not have an ounce of anger towards her, but I am filled with guilt for my shortcomings.

Please help as I am really struggling to find some answers to this.


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Old 01-27-2011, 11:49 AM   #2
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Re: Am I guilty of inflicting emotional abuse ?

Maybe you are guilty of inflicting emotional abuse. It seems as though you don't like to take "no" for an answer. When your gf told you "no thanks" on you paying for her insurance you kept going at her. When she had had enough and broke up with you, you didn't seem to be hearing what she said and then you followed her. This is very bad behavior which ultimately even got you arrested.

You have a problem stopping yourself from doing and saying things. You have a problem with wanting to control her, by not taking "no" for an answer. By doing this, it is abusive because you are really saying to her "I know what is best for you, you can't make your own decisions, so do what I say." That is a very controlling thing to do.

It is a good thing that you are seeking counseling. You seem like you really want to figure things out and to change for the better.

Old 01-27-2011, 06:17 PM   #3
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Re: Am I guilty of inflicting emotional abuse ?

You do need to learn that no means no. It doesn't mean "if you 'explain' more I will change my mind" or, "if you keep after me, I will do what you want". It just plain means no.

And showing up at her work was a huge mistake. It was both frightening and embarassing for her. It doesn't matter that you think she was wrong to be frightened of you. A cop told me once, if it's PERCEIVED as a threat, it's a threat. She had already told you she didn't want to talk to you yet you persisted and even followed her in your car. Why? Did you think if you could force her to talk to you she would change her mind? In that situation, I too would have called the cops.

I am glad to hear you are in therapy. You need to learn impulse control, anger management and communication skills. But all of that can be learned, fortunately. I presume you are fairly young and you have many possibilities of happiness ahead of you after you learn better coping skills.

Old 02-03-2011, 09:19 PM   #4
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Re: Am I guilty of inflicting emotional abuse ?

sugar, I wish I could tell you that you are worrying over nothing, but I have been in your ex s place. You were belittling her choices, wanting to leave, wanting insurance, wanting to break up, wanting to be left alone because you didn't respect them. It was emotional abuse. That being said, I am so glad that you are getting help. Fix yourself, then find a nice girl whose past has been resolved and who is calmer, more together. This is especially important now, as the last thing you need right now is a co-dependent relationship.

Old 02-05-2011, 12:31 AM   #5
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Re: Am I guilty of inflicting emotional abuse ?

You weren't terribly or overtly abusive to her, but as the others have said, you pursue things that she has clearly told you she doesn't want you to pursue. Showing up at her work and then following her when she told you she didn't want to talk to you is very inappropriate and kind of stalker-like. I would have called the cops too or filed for a restraining order if something like that happened. It's kind of scary.

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