Picture, if you will, the scene of a domestic argument between a 210 lb, 6″ man and his 90 lb, 5″ wife. One — call them A — has just come home from a night out drinking and is in a volatile mood; the other — call them B — is sitting quietly in front of a laptop.
A is obviously agitated and immediately approaches B, addressing them in a raised voice. B becomes defensive and tries to respond reasonably. A does not appear to take any notice of B’s words and becomes increasingly aggressive. B asks A to step back, give them space, but A only responds by becoming more threatening, hurling insults and accusations of infidelity.
A notices that B has made a change to their appearance and takes this to be evidence of being under the influence of another party, giving more force to the accusations that B is having an affair. B withdraws, turning up the volume of the music on their earphones and tries to remain calm in the face of this provocation.
A responds by moving closer to B — within inches — and shouting: B cringes away, hands raised around the head in an attempt at protection. After a while A leaves the room and B closes the door, leaning against it to try to prevent A re-entering. B is trembling from shock and fear, levels of stress and anxiety going through the roof.
A tries unsuccessfully to gain entry a few times, continuing to shout insults and accusations through the door. B is in a total state of fear, unable to move away from the door in case A manages to get through. Eventually B does move away from the door and sits down; shortly after this A enters angrily, demanding that the door remain open.
B cowers, asking A to leave the room. As A continues to berate B, B becomes desperate and starts shouting at A to get away. A insults and verbally threatens B before eventually striking B on the head and walking out. A continues for hours afterwards to direct insulting remarks and threats of violence at B from another room. B feels trapped and threatened: hands shake and the whole body feels tense. It has taken B hours to calm down enough to write this account.
I have condensed the events somewhat: in reality this went on over a period of about 3 hours, a considerable portion of which I spent feeling terrified. Me, a physically large man, intimidated to that extent by a small woman. Some men in my situation would feel ashamed to admit it, or fear that they would be disbelieved. After all, in the majority of cases it is the man who is the abuser. But regardless of the sex of either party, abuse is never acceptable.
I really thought I had gotten through to A the importance of my safe place, my need for space and peace while I focus on dealing with my depression. A told me she understood, but I now believe they were empty words.
As time goes on I feel more and more strongly that I’m in an abusive relationship. And yet I remain here, too afraid of the unknown to break free and run away despite my suffering. Even though I strongly suspect that this is the root cause of my depression. I hope I can overcome my fear enough to get away to where I can feel safe.
Updated to make the identities of A and B more explicit and to expand a little on domestic abuse (thanks to suburp for the feedback).