One of the common contradictions that women hear goes like this:
“Well, it’s your own fault because you let him get away with treating you like that. You have to stand up to him.”
while other people say
“If you’re going to get right up in his face and push his buttons like that, what do you expect? You already knew how he’d react if you said that to him, because of what has happened before, but you said it anyhow.”
So what’s the correct way to handle him? Should you stand up to him or shouldn’t you?
The answer is that no one has any business telling you what to do, because there are so many factors involved in the decision in each specific situation. You are the expert on your partner. You know which issues you can (usually) get away with challenging him about. And you know that there are others where he will punish you if you stand up to him. Some days you will choose to hold your ground despite the pain his retaliation will cost you; you’ll do that because the issue that you’re arguing about means that much to you, or because you can’t take being bullied anymore, or because your soul and dignity need to see you resist his dictates from time to time.
Most people don’t understand how payback-oriented controlling and abusive men are. They don’t understand what a high price you may pay for calling him on how wrong his statements and actions are. How can someone else know when it’s worth it to you and when it isn’t?
And as for people who are telling you not to challenge him, they too have no idea what they are talking about. While it’s true that confronting him can cost you a lot, failing to fight back eats away at your soul over time. These people are saying, in effect, that you should consent to be oppressed because it will make life look a little more peaceful, a little less overtly injurious, a little less scary. It’s the same thing as saying to someone, “You should let the invaders take your children one at a time, because otherwise they might take them all at once.”
There are no simple solutions in dealing with a partner who bullies you, and you deserve respect and understanding about that fact from the people in your life.