A husband and father turned to Reddit to ask for help regarding his “relatively happy relationship.”

User throwaway5468934 is the first to admit when he’s at fault and says he’s “quite sensitive to discussions.”

However, when his wife started “mid-tone yelling” at him about how he was “lazy” for using a plastic water bottle at home, he got the impression they were not going to have a discussion. He explained that her argument was:

[T]hat I was being lazy and that I should have just drank some tap-water instead of being “environmentally unfriendly” and opening up a bottle of water.

He calmly retorted that her retaliation was “verbal abuse.” However, rather than apologize or acknowledge her husband’s feelings, she responded with physical confrontation. The husband wrote that:

Their response was to sneak up behind me and very hard (I would say as hard as they could, if not 80% max strength) hit me on the back of the neck with a wet baby face-cloth.

He described the brief pain as that of a “locker-room towel whip.” He continued to say that even though she did not directly punch or hit him, he believes that “any use of physical force with the intent to hurt should be considered as physical abuse.”

He said:

After this happened I spoke to them and said “I have told you in the past I don’t like it when you use moderate physical force in an argument because if makes me fearful of being hurt”. They disregarded me and said that this was not physical abuse and that I was being too sensitive.

However, followers of the dialogue on Reddit were swift to respond that her actions against her husband are, in fact, abuse. One user pointed out that “when a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” Another clarified the difference between an argument and an abusive situation:

Arguments are when you disagree about something (you want sushi for dinner, they want pizza). You both have a stake in the outcome, you both have a case to make.

Abusive situations, in my experience, are when you’re just minding your own business and they come at you. You ask an innocent question or you do some mundane thing the “wrong way”. There’s no give-and-take. c with what’s at stake. It’s a one-sided battle.

In the U.S., nearly 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner, equating to more than 10 million people a year. When discussing domestic abuse, it is often assumed that women are the victims. However, 1 in 4 men have been physically abused (“slapped, pushed, shoved”) by an intimate partner. Furthermore, nearly 50 percent of men have experienced “at least one psychologically aggressive behavior.”

The husband added in a comment in the thread:

Women have it so hard in this world already there are plenty of double standards in favor of men but I believe that when it comes to physical abuse that sometimes women can get away with more than men. I don’t believe it should be that way though. All violence is bad.

If you or someone you love is suffering from abuse in an intimate partnership, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides “around the clock, seven days a week” confidential support. They can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or on their website.

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