On Trial

6, April 2011 at 1:11 PM (scapegoated) (, , , , , )

If you have not already, please read the Preamble, below. This is his accusation:

“You guilted me into talking by telling me that withholding is abusive […] I was coerced into being way more vulnerable than I was comfortable with.”

+ Is withholding defined by abuse experts and survivors as abusive behaviour? Yes. Some examples of withholding defined as abusive: 1) “Withholding is another form of denying. Withholding includes refusing to listen, refusing to communicate, and emotionally withdrawing as punishment. This is sometimes called the ‘silent treatment.'” 2) “Withhold: Definition – Hold or keep back, refuse to give, deny, refrain from granting, giving or allowing. If a spouse withholds information and feelings, then the marriage bond weakens. The abuser who refuses to listen to his partner, denies her experience and leaves her isolated. Withholding occurs when one partner withholds affection, information, thoughts, and feelings from his partner. When one person in a relationship withholds, intimacy cannot be created.” 3) “Withholding (also called “Depriving”) is another form of denying. Withholding includes refusal to listen, refusal to communicate, and emotionally withdrawing as punishment. A relationship requires intimacy and intimacy requires empathy. If one partner withholds information and feelings, then the relationship bond weakens.” 4) “Examples of withholding might include: Refusing to give you information about where he is going, when he is coming back, about financial resources, and other forms of information. Refusing to answer questions, make eye contact, etc.” 5) “The truth is, there is absolutely nothing you can do to please your abuser to get him to quit withholding from you. Withholding, like all other abusive behaviors is about power and control.”

+ Is it wrong or in any way abusive to state the information above? No.
+ Is stating the information above an example of “guilting”? No.
+ Might hearing the information above cause someone to feel guilty? Yes.
+ Is the person who states the information above responsible for the other person’s feeling of guilt? No.
+ Does stating the information above force anyone to talk to someone else or in any other way act against their will? No.

coercion: the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will; [legal definition from dictionary.com]

+ What does he feel he had to do against his will? Talk to me.
+ Does he have the right not to talk to me? Yes.
+ Do I have to like it? No.
+ Did he ever choose not to talk to me? Often.
+ Do I have the right to be unhappy if he won’t talk to me? Yes.
+ Do I have the right to say so? Yes, an obligation, even.

+ What feeling(s) did he have as a result of talking to me? He felt vulnerable.
+ Am I responsible for his feeling of vulnerability? No.

+ Have I ever committed violence against him? No.
+ Have I ever threatened to use violence against him? No.
+ Have I ever implied I would use violence against him? No.
+ Can it therefore be true that I caused him to talk to me/act against his will through express or implied threats of violence? No.

+ What may he have felt would be a consequence of not talking to me? I would feel shut out, insecure, scared, unloved, unwanted, etc.
+ Am I allowed to feel those things? Yes.
+ Is it wrong to feel those things? No.
+ Is it wrong to say when he doesn’t talk to me, I feel shut out, etc? No.
+ Is having feelings of being shut out, etc an act of retaliation/reprisal? No.
+ Is expressing feelings of being shut out, etc an act of retaliation/reprisal? No.

+ Do I have the right to feel dissatisfied with our relationship if he does not talk to me? Yes.
+ Do I have the right to end the relationship if I am dissatisfied? Yes.
+ What then may he have understood as a potential threat resulting from my feelings of dissatisfaction? I could terminate the relationship.
+ Have I ever threatened to or implied I would terminate the relationship if he would not talk to me? No. I have only said I am not happy and don’t feel comfortable with such a person and in such a relationship. I expressed that he has the right to choose to leave the relationship if he does not want to talk to me.
+ What were his options in this case? 1) stay in the relationship and talk to me; 2) leave the relationship and talk to me; 3) stay in the relationship and not talk to me; 4) leave the relationship and not talk to me; 5) stay in the relationship and propose some other solution/compromise/method;
+ Which option(s) did he choose? All options were exercised at different times of varying duration. #3 was exercised most often and for longest duration.
+ What were my options in this case? 1) Stay in the relationship unhappy and dissatisfied; 2) leave the relationship.
+ What option did I choose? #1. (Yeah, I know, bad choice.)
+ Can it therefore be true that I caused him to talk to me/act against his will through express or implied threats of reprisal? No.

+ What may he have felt was intimidating behaviour? Not sure, maybe begging for him to talk to me? Getting angry because he would not talk to me?
+ Do I have the right to beg? I don’t think “begging for him to talk to me” is a matter of rights. I think begging for him to talk to me was a behaviour resulting from feeling shut out, etc.
+ Do I have the right to feel angry? Yes.
+ Do I have the right to feel angry because he will not talk to me? Yes.
+ Do I have the right to say so? Yes.
+ Does he have to like it? No.
+ Is anger a behaviour? No, it is a feeling.
+ If begging is a behaviour and could possibly be felt as intimidating, did it result in him talking to me? Sometimes.
+ Can it therefore be true that I caused him to talk to me/act against his will through intimidating behaviour (begging him to talk to me)? If he feels begging for him to talk to me is intimidating, then the answer is sometimes.

+ Did he ever say he felt begging is an intimidating behaviour? No. He said it pushed him further away, made him feel angry, frustrated, confused etc.
+ Was there any way I could have known he felt intimidated as a specific result of me begging him to talk to me? Yes. I could have asked.
+ Did I ask if he felt begging for him to talk to me was intimidating? No. In the middle of feeling shut out, pushed away, defending myself against the accusations that I was making him angry, frustrated, etc. and the begging itself, I did not think of it. Furthermore, even in a calm state, I probably would not have thought to ask if my begging him to talk to me was specifically intimidating; I probably would have thought he felt it was instead annoying, unattractive, ridiculous, etc.
+ Is it my responsibility to assume or speculate that he might feel specifically intimidated by my begging him to talk to me? No. It is his responsibility to communicate his feelings about what I am doing.
+ Does my begging for him to talk to me make me responsible for his feelings (angry, frustrated, confused)? No.
+ Does my begging for him to talk to me make me responsible for him withdrawing? No.
+ In other words, there was no way to know that begging him to talk to me may have felt intimidating to him, and yet I was considered responsible for his anger, frustration, confusion and withdrawal? Correct.
+ Can it therefore be true that I used what I knew to be an intimidating behaviour to cause or compel him to talk to me/act against his will? No.

+ What could I have done otherwise, in this case? Stopped begging, just accept he would not talk to me.
+ What would have been the result of that acceptance? Continuing to feel shut out, etc.
+ Did I ever try to just accept that he would not talk to me? Yes.
+ Did accepting that he would not talk to me ever result in him voluntarily bringing the subject up again when he felt ready to discuss it? Never.
+ In other words, if I just accepted that he would not talk to me, my concerns would be left un-addressed indefinitely? Correct.

+ Can a relationship thrive and be healthy if one person feels shut out, etc? Not in my opinion, no.
+ What then would have been the immediate consequences of my continuing to feel shut out, etc? For me: Having to choose whether to terminate the relationship, or remain in it unhappy and dissatisfied. For him: Having to choose whether to terminate the relationship, or remain in it knowing I am unhappy and dissatisfied.
+ Who could have made these choices? Either of us.
+ Did either of us make such a choice? I chose to remain feeling unhappy and dissatisfied, he chose to remain knowing I was unhappy and dissatisfied.
+ Knowing that I felt unhappy and dissatisfied because he would not talk to me, might he have felt therefore responsible for me feeling unhappy and dissatisfied? Likely he did, yes.
+ Are my feelings his responsibility? No.
+ Is it my fault if he feels responsible for my feelings? No.
+ What then should he have done in this case? Understand that not talking to me was his own choice; understand that I had a right to feel dissatisfied and unhappy with his choice; either accept his choice and my feelings resulting therefrom, or make a different choice.
+ If in my opinion a relationship cannot thrive and be healthy if one person feels shut out, etc, what did I hope begging would accomplish? Get him to talk to me and thereby decrease the feeling of being shut out, etc.
+ Why begging, and not, say, asking or encouraging? Because asking and encouraging did not work. Only begging, and that only sometimes.
+ If begging was the only thing that (sometimes) worked, is that the same thing as saying the only way I could find to not feel shut out etc, besides terminating the relationship, was to keep begging? Yes.
+ If begging resulted sometimes in him talking to me, did it accomplish me feeling less shut out, etc? Rarely, due to the very fact that begging itself seemed to me a rather extreme thing to have to do to get even the tiniest bit of information or the smallest sensation of having learned something about him: the means defeated the ends.

+ What may have been his immediate fear if he acted according to his will (to not talk to me)? That I would feel angry, start begging, or make up my own mind about things if he did not talk to me.
+ Is it wrong or abusive to feel angry? No.
+ Is it wrong or abusive to beg someone to talk to you? No, but it sure is humiliating for me, and probably embarrassing and annoying for him.
+ Is it wrong or abusive to make up one’s own mind about things if someone will not talk to them? No. If they attempted but cannot get the information they are seeking, a person has to make their own conclusions with which to move forward.
+ Do I have the right to make up my own mind about things? Yes.
+ Does he have to like it? No.
+ Do I have the right to see things differently than he does? Yes.
+ Does he have to like the way I see things? No.
+ If he feared me making up my own mind about things, is that my fault? No.
+ Am I responsible for his fear? No.
+ If he feared me making up my own mind about things, what could he have done in that case? Talk to me.
+ Do I have to see things differently because he talked to me? No.
+ Did I see things differently when he talked to me? Sometimes.
+ Do I have to see things the same way he does because he talked to me? No.
+ Did I see things the same way he does when he talked to me? Sometimes. What I saw was mostly just how he saw things.
+ What was his response if I did not see things the same way as he does? Arguing, anger, frustration, confusion, physical violence/aggression, attacking my ability to understand and communicate, further and intensified withholding and withdrawal from the relationship, the silent treatment, leaving the house and/or relationship for sometimes unknown periods of duration, moving out of the house indefinitely and always potentially never to return.
+ Might it then be said that I experienced or witnessed expressed or implied threats of violence or reprisal or other intimidating behaviours which put me in immediate fear of unwanted consequences? Yes, very often.
+ And does this fit the definition of coercion? Yes.

+ What potentially unwanted consequences were imposed upon or suggested to him if he did not talk to me? Sometimes I asked him to leave the house and/or the relationship.
+ Did begging him to talk to me equate to or result in asking him to leave house and/or the relationship? No.
+ Can it therefore be true that even if he felt begging him to talk to me is an “intimidating behaviour” that he would be made by that behaviour to fear unwanted consequences (being asked to leave the house and/or the relationship)? No.

+ Is asking him to leave the house the same thing as breaking up with him? No.
+ Is asking him to leave the relationship the same as breaking up with him? No.
+ Why did I ask him to leave the house and/or the relationship instead of breaking up with him? Because I did not want to end the relationship, but could not avoid feeling shut out, etc if he remained in the house.
+ How is asking him to leave the house and/or the relationship different than breaking up with him? He would still have the option of staying in the relationship. Leaving the relationship does not mean the same thing as terminating the relationship.
+ Did I understand that asking him to leave the house and/or relationship may have resulted in him choosing to terminate the relationship? Yes.
+ Was that a chance I was willing to take? It had to be. I did not feel I had any other option than to ask him to leave.
+ While gone, did he ever expressly terminate the relationship? Yes.
+ Might my willingness to take that chance have aroused in him a fear that I had the power and/or willingness to break up with him? Yes.
+ Might he have interpreted my asking him to leave the house and/or the relationship as being the same thing as me breaking up with him? Likely he did. I did not threaten to break up with him, I asked him to leave.
+ Did he ask for clarification? Yes.
+ Did I give him clarification? Many times.

+ Would he have feared my ability to end the relationship? Probably.
+ Am I responsible for his fear? No.
+ Does his fear of my ability to break up with him make me have to stay in a relationship I do not want? No.
+ Does his fear of my ability to break up with him make me have to accept him in the house if I do not want him there? No.
+ Did he say he wanted to stay in the relationship? Yes.
+ Did he leave the house when asked? Yes, all but one time.
+ Did he ever say he was leaving the house but not the relationship? Never, unless he was just going for a walk. If he moved out of the house, he never said he was not also leaving the relationship; he never expressed an intention to return either to the house (except to collect his belongings) or the relationship.
+ Did he ever leave the house and/or the relationship without being asked or told to do so? Often.
+ Did he ever leave the house and/or the relationship without informing me he was doing so? Several times. The one time I left to go for a walk, I was only just across the street before he raced past in his car; I did not know where he was going or when if ever he would return (he moved in with his parents again in that instance). Another time while he was living at another apartment, I had to deduce he left the relationship because he changed his facebook status to single and posted that he bought and was reading a dating advice book on goodreads (he explained this via an email after many days’ silence). The last time he said he would talk to me when he got home from work, and three hours later called me from his parents’ to inform me he was going to live there from now on. He would also frequently leave the house during arguments with the intention of just going for a walk, but without telling me that or when or if ever he intended to return.
+ Did he leave and return to the relationship? Often.
+ Did he ever ask to return to the relationship? No.
+ Did I ever ask him to return to the relationship? Yes.
+ Do I have the right to ask him to leave the relationship? Yes.
+ Does he have to like it? No.
+ Does he have the right to ask to stay in the relationship? Yes.
+ Must I comply with his request? No.
+ Did he ever say he has the right to stay in the relationship? No. He said once he had a right to stay in the house, but did not express a right to stay in the relationship.
+ Did I let him stay in the house in that instance? Yes.
+ In other words, the one time he asserted a right to stay in the house, he was able to stay in the house? Yes.
+ Did he have somewhere else he could go if I had said no? Yes: his parents, friends, vacant apartments owned by his dad.
+ Would he have been homeless if he was asked to leave the house and/or the relationship? No.
+ Did he express any fear of being made homeless by having to leave the house and/or the relationship? No.
+ Instead of asking him to leave the house and/or relationship, could I have left the house or relationship myself? No. I do not have family or friends I could stay with. Women’s shelters did not seem appropriate for this situation. Also, I own the lease on the apartment, as well as it would seem strange to leave my son living by himself with my partner.

+ What consequence(s) might he have feared then by choosing not to talk to me? That I would ask him to leave, start begging for him to talk to me, and/or would continue to feel shut out, etc. It’s possible also he feared the consequence of his own bad feelings (guilt for not wanting to talk to me, fear that he was damaging the relationship by not talking to me, etc).
+ Am I responsible for him having such feelings resulting from his own choice? Obviously not.
+ Did I ever give him an ultimatum (“Talk to me or else I’m breaking up with you”)? No. I said if he doesn’t want to talk to me, he should leave. The choice was still his to decide what he wanted and felt most comfortable doing.
+ What choice did he make in that case? He usually chose to leave, quickly and without comment.
+ Did he ever chose not to talk to me, yet not have to leave the house or the relationship? Often.
+ In other words, he was often able to remain in the house and in the relationship even though he would not talk to me? Correct.
+ Can it therefore be true that I put him in immediate fear of unwanted consequences (loss of shelter, loss of the relationship, and/or his own development of guilt or fear) if he did not talk to me/act against his will? No.

+ Do I have any other sort of power not discussed above with which to intimidate or threaten him (financial, sexual, etc)? No. The only possibility I can see is he might feel I have power over how I see him and whether I will continue to like/love him or not based on what image I have of him.
+ Do I have the power to see others as I see them? Of course, we all do.
+ Is that the same thing as having power over someone else? No.
+ Can he control how I see him? No. By talking to me about himself he can only influence, inform, alter, or flesh out the image I have of him.
+ Must my image of him agree with his image of himself? No.
+ Do I have the right to not like/love him if the image I get of him is unlikeable, unpleasant or distasteful to me? Of course.
+ Do I have to like/love someone who I find unlikeable, unpleasant or distasteful? Of course not.
+ Might he have feared that by talking to me, I may form an unlikeable, unpleasant or distasteful image of him, and therefore will stop liking/loving him? Likely he did, yes.
+ Might he have feared that by talking to me, he will lose control over how I see him? Likely, yes.
+ Might that loss of control over how I see him, and therefore an inability to control how I feel about him (whether or not I will continue to like/love him), be what actually makes him feel vulnerable? Likely, yes.
+ Am I responsible for those fears, his discomfort with losing control, or his feeling of vulnerability? No.

+ What could he have done in this case? Talk to me about his fears.
+ Did he talk to me about these fears? Yes.
+ Does talking to me about those fears mean he is excused from ever having to talk to me about anything else? No.
+ Does talking to me about those fears mean I have to change my image of him to agree with his image of himself? No.
+ Does talking to me about those fears mean I have to change how I feel about him? No.
+ Did he ever say he was afraid I won’t like him if he tells me about himself? Yes.
+ Did I ever develop bad feelings about him based on what he told me about himself? Yes.
+ Are my feelings about him allowed to change based upon what he tells me about himself? Yes.
+ What feelings am I allowed to have if he tells me something about himself which I do not like to hear? Anything, I am allowed to feel anything. Anger, disgust, regret, relief, confusion, jealousy, fear, sadness, disappointment, anything.
+ Is he responsible for those feelings? No.
+ Does he need to agree with my feelings? No.
+ Is he allowed to decide for me which feelings I should be having? No.
+ Is he allowed to decide for me how long I can have my feelings? No.
+ Might he have felt intimidated by my right and ability to decide for myself how I see him? Yes.
+ Might he have felt intimidated by my right and ability to decide for myself how I feel about him? Yes.
+ Is having the right and ability to decide for myself how I see and feel about him an intimidating behaviour? No, it is not any kind of behaviour.
+ Can it therefore be true that through some other kind of intimidating behaviour or threat I forced him to feel vulnerable/talk to me/act against his will? No.

+ Given that I never used express or implied threats of violence or reprisal, that I did not use intimidating behaviour to instill immediate fear of unwanted consequences, can it possibly be the case that I compelled him to act against his will (talk to me, exceed his comfort level with showing vulnerability) by means of coercion? No.

+ By what, then, does he feel coerced? Guilt. It is not clear from the statement if he feels guilt because he feels wrongly accused of being abusive (denial), because when he sees definitions of withholding as abuse he recognises himself  (admission), because he is ashamed of bringing to our relationship subjects and a personal history I am/we are extremely uncomfortable with, because when he talks about himself he hates what he hears (has to face an image of himself he always avoided looking at before), because he feels bad wanting to or trying to withhold information, or because he feels responsible if I feel shut out or unhappy because he won’t talk to me. Likely all of the above at once.
+ Am I responsible for his feelings of guilt? No.
+ Is he responsible for me feeling shut out or unhappy because he won’t talk to me? No. I invited him to find a relationship with someone who would not feel shut out or unhappy if he didn’t want to talk to them, if that was his preference.
+ Did he say he would prefer to be with someone he didn’t have to talk to? No, he said he did not want to be with someone who he didn’t have to talk to. He said he does not want to have a relationship which is lacking in emotional intimacy (highly confusing to me, given the intensity with which he defends his right to withdraw/withhold despite understanding the effects of withdrawal/withholding on intimacy in relationships, as described above).
+ Can his feelings (of guilt or vulnerability) be considered something I do to him? No.
+ Can it therefore be true that I imposed his guilt and thereby forced him to talk to me/feel vulnerable by means of coercion? No.
 

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