Abuse Tactics: Bullying & Intimidation

Bullying and intimidation is all about controlling you through fear. There doesn’t need to be any physical violence, or even the obvious threat of it, to feel intimidated. If, like many autistic people, you hate conflict, you might be intimidated by the existence or threat of an unpleasant atmosphere, which might be all it takes for the abuser to let you know you’ve done the “wrong thing” and manoeuvre you into do what s/he wants.

It’s very unlikely that any one abuser would use all these tactics, and there will be many ways of bullying and intimidation not mentioned here. So, don’t feel you’re overreacting if you don’t see all these particular tactics – you’re not. Every situation is different.

Subtle types of intimidation
Tapping, drumming fingers, sulking, glaring, giving you “the look”, calling you names, flaring nostrils, widening/narrowing eyes, clenching fists/jaw, pacing about or suddenly marching up to you, looming over you, blocking your way out (either obviously or subtly), crotch thrusting, shouting.

More obvious types of intimidation
Violence can take many forms, and might be directed towards you, your children, your friends, your pets, your stuff, or anyone/anything else you care about, in the form of: breaking your stuff, snatching things from you, raising a hand/fist to you, grabbing you by your clothes, pulling your hair, prodding/poking, pinching, slapping, pushing you over, tripping you up, restraining you (holding on to you, and not letting you go), punching, rape (which is any form of penetration you have not agreed to, including sex while you’re drunk, drugged, or asleep – see also: Degradation).

Being intimidated is not your fault. You are not scared because you’re over-sensitive, or weak, or over-reacting, or blowing-it-all-out-of-proportion. You’re scared because you’re scared. (If an old lady was scared by a thug, no one would tell her to “toughen up”.) It is not your responsibility to toughen up; it is the bully’s responsibility to stop behaving in a way that scares you. They know they’re doing it, even if they pretend they don’t, so don’t blame yourself.

Please leave a comment below if you would like to add a bullying/intimidation tactic.

Please DON’T challenge an abuser, or try to leave a relationship, without getting help first.
There are organisations that can help you work out what to do, and help to keep you (and your children) safe from further physical and/or psychological harm. If you are in the UK, please see the Where to Get Help page for more information. If you are outside the UK, Google your country’s abuse charities – there will be people to help you.

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