Was I Abused When He Grabbed My Face?

Was I abused when he grabbed my face? Will grabbed my jaw. His hand felt huge. He moved me to a corner in the living room. He stood there yelling at me. His grip hurt. I couldn’t talk and I knew if I moved he could break my jaw. Funny thing, though: I forgot that I was abused, both physically and emotionally, on that day in 1998.

I forgot all about the violence until I read about it in my journal.

I forgot about it.

Was I Abused? If So, Why Did I Forget About It?

Victims ask, 'Was I abused?' because they can't tell. Find out how fear alters an abuse victim's perspective, and makes 'Was I abused?' confusing to answer.It shocks me that the memory of physical violence hid in my mind for so long. Maybe I didn’t think I was abused.

  • No bruises, right?
  • He didn’t hit me, right?
  • Did the brainwashing I’d experienced over the earlier 5-6 years contribute to my perspective on his violence?
  • Perhaps my PTSD provided such detachment it felt as if the violence didn’t happen.

Or maybe I’d experienced so much fear and so many acts of violence (banging cabinets, slamming drawers, blocking doors, etc.) that my fear level was off-kilter. Actions and threats that should have scared the shit out of me no longer bothered me. But someone watching them from afar would have been afraid. I would be afraid if I saw them happening to a friend. But I wasn’t as afraid of Will as I should have been.

Living with daily abuse and the threat of violence puts a person on edge. It causes anxiety (Long Term Verbal Abuse Symptoms). My brain couldn’t handle such a persistent high-energy existence, so it changed his behaviors that I should fear into ones I did not fear. My mind lowered Will’s red light behaviors to yellow and even green light behaviors. After he finished assaulting me, I didn’t think to myself, “Was I abused?!” What I thought was, “How can I keep that from happening again?”

I Was Abused When He Grabbed My Face

So anyway, I found a picture of face-grabbing and clicked through to the story about a soccer player who got a yellow flag. And the author believes the face-grabber should have received something greater than a warning flag for his behavior. Yay!

Someone who grabs your face intends to control and intimidate. The behavior does not belong in soccer any more than grabbing another player’s face mask or helmet belongs in hockey and football. Guess what? Grabbing someone’s face does not belong at home, either.

Victims ask, 'Was I abused?' because they can't tell. Find out how fear alters an abuse victim's perspective, and makes 'Was I abused?' confusing to answer.

The Intent of Face Grabbing and Choking Tactics

If someone grabs your face, it is domestic violence. And if your partner grabs your throat instead of your face, you are 7 – 10 times more likely to die at their hand later.  What if your abuser accidentally grabbed you by the face instead of your throat? What if your abuser meant to choke you? The abuser’s hand, two inches up or down, could make a huge the difference in what happens next. If a few inches makes that big of a difference statistically, then you must believe that someone who grabs your face intends violent control.

I did not recognize the danger in 1998 because after years of fear, brainwashing and living in abuse numbed me to it (Is PTSD from Domestic Abuse Causing Your Distress?). But reading a post like this one could have helped me to understand. Share it, please.

Don’t let face grabbing get past your brain’s fear center again. It is a physical means of control, it is assault, and face grabbing is domestic violence. Will abused me that day. If you experienced manhandling like that, your mate abused you, too.

Here’s the post I’ve mentioned: Santa is a Bastard – Hateful Things and Hidden Memories

Here’s the book you’ve got to read this week: Gavin DeBecker’s The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence

Thank you, itsgoofy, for the images that inspired this post.

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About Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly passionately advocates against domestic violence through her writing and mentoring service. She loves helping women cope with abuse while in the relationship and supporting them as they leave the relationship and begin to heal. You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You can buy her books from Amazon.


  1. Thanks for this article. I live in South Korea as an expat and I am being driven insane with how common it is for the men to ‘playfully’ pinch (harshly), tear and grab at their girlfriends faces or necks, all under the guise of cooing and flirting but it makes me sick. It’s like the Trojan Horse version of abuse. Coo, coo, coo then pinch the crap out of their cheek and tear away from it. ‘Playful’ fist knocks to the head etc. It’s driving me crazy to be around it. It’s a very crowded city and I can’t keep myself from being, like, “Here it comes, here it comes” and then on cue the Korean man will ‘playfully’ maim his girlfriend, a nasty pinch of the skin of her neck or something like that. I saw a guy grab his girlfriend’s face, dig his fingernails in, and direct her to where he wanted to go the other day. They weren’t arguing at all and had been laughing and doing their faux K-pop video flirtations. It was as casual and light-hearted as could be and the young woman hardly reacted. They make me sick. There’s isn’t a shred of romance or sexiness at all. It’s just gross. They are constantly digging their fingers into their girlfriends’ face with a type of “What? I think you’re cute” kind of attitude when the girl finally tries to get them to stop. HATE IT. I’ve seen guys simply attacking their girlfriends faces on the subway relentlessly. Sometimes lifting them up by their cheeks until the girl has to get on her tiptoes, all under the “You’re so cute” vain. Women do it as well contrarily but not as much. So it’s not a whiteknight thing, I’m feeling because I find that equally disgusting. It’s just the most elementally hateful body language to reach out and grab someone’s face. It makes me respect gay men who have the manhood to admit they’re gay rather than go through life kidding themselves that they like women and obediently fulfilling a social role (that they despise) as happens here. Young men who tear at their girlfriends’ faces in some brutal version of ‘cooing’ need to really think about admitting they dislike women, admit what they are and get themselves on their proper ‘team’.

    It helps to explain this at least to someone. It’s driving me nuts to be around it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I did this yesterday. Grabbed her face, in order to exert control. I’ve never done it before, and I don’t know what came over me. There’s no justification for that action, no matter how bad an argument can get. I’m trying to find forgiveness and peace. And I’m not getting it.

    • You sound like a prime candidate for therapy. I wouldn’t say that if I thought you were a lost cause. However, because this happened suddenly and unexpectedly for you, it’s important that you seek help. Saying ‘it won’t happen again’ means nothing when you didn’t do it ‘on purpose’ in the first place.

      You shouldn’t expect forgiveness and peace from the woman you grabbed. She doesn’t have to ever forgive you and is well within her rights to leave. The forgiveness and peace you seek only comes from helping yourself to never behave that way again. You are your own source of those feelings.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He said he was going to bash my face in but instead he threw me against the front door, grabbed my head and banged it against the door. The scary thing is he thought about it as he didn’t want to show marks. I should have called the police but I was too embarrassed and weak. I hate myself for not having the strength to stand up for myself. This was the first physical abuse after years of emotional abuse. It is always my fault. I wanted to die that night as the emotional pain was so deep but I have two boys and I would never do that to them. My family are supportive but I haven’t told them about the physical abuse yet. I found your blog as I am looking for other people who have been in my situation and how they got out of it. I despise him. I wish I had never met him. I am angry at the young me for bringing me down this path. I just want to be happy and free once more. It is so hard. I have a plan and I will leave.

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