• Robin Parry

Fear of Making a Mistake

No one enjoys making a mistake. It is an unpleasant experience in which you may feel momentarily silly, embarrassed or even ashamed. Everyone makes mistakes and we can learn a lot from them if we reflect on what went wrong and try to do better next time. If you are in a loving relationship your mistakes may annoy your partner or attract a bit of teasing but they will not be given much airtime. The attitude is that no one is perfect. Not so in an abusive relationship though.

Abused women are generally punished when they make mistakes and even if it’s a simple case of forgetting to do something, an accidental breakage or simply using their discretion about where to park the car their partners’ reactions can be swift in their condemnation. After a while the woman will be internalising blame, self-esteem will drop and fear takes over as she tries to avoid doing anything supposedly wrong. She may even react with sheer terror to even trivial errors of judgement.

If that is happening to you try to step back and observe the dynamic instead of taking on the blame and being afraid of the bully. Would you treat your partner like that? Most probably not! So why should you be treated like that? Don’t react to his bullying at the time it occurs, as it may not be a sensible or safe thing to do. Instead question your culpability and refuse to take on blame for something that is either trivial, overblown or not your doing at all. When things have calmed down between you then you can challenge his bad treatment but keep your feedback clear and brief. You might say “I don’t like the way you put me down when something goes wrong. I want you to stop doing that,” and then say no more. Abusive men do not respond well to verbal overload but a brief statement, quietly stated, usually gets under their radar. They may actually hear you for the first time.

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