The motive behind abuse is to have power and control over the other person. Women who come to our support group are often fearful that they are abusive. This is because they have yelled at, swore at or hit their partners. When we ask women to recall the context in which they behaved this way, they talk about trying to defend themselves or trying to get their partner to stop attacking them. They are never trying to overpower their partner or control every aspect of their partner’s life. (Although they are sometimes trying to get control of their own life back.) While these women’s behaviour may not be ideal and may in fact be dangerous. It may escalate their partner’s abuse. We would not call their behaviour abusive.