The Argument

The argument is natural conflict in relationships that occurs when values clash.  Healthy relationships and mature attitudes are able to identify the real issue.

The top three arguments for intimate partners are

  • Finances

  • Parenting/Children

  • Sex/Intimacy/Infidelity

With this short list you can see how when Police are called to a domestic dispute they are not equipped, trained nor is it their job to resolve these issues in your relationship.

The role of a police officer is to prevent violence and protect life and property.  They might be concerned for your safety, may have genuine fears for your life and are obligated and legislated to investigate and implement safety measures, even if it is against your will.  Having seen the impact of abuse and violence, Police, Governments, DV and health professionals are right to have concerns. They can identify the signs and signals of potential and actual risk and it is based on this knowlegde and understanding that policy and legislation exists.

I used to tell victims that when the police of called we know it’s not the first time this has happened.  In a recent interview Amy Mouif shared how victims will experience abuse or violence up to 26 times before they report it to police.  This is a pattern of argument, conflict and escalating conflict where an unresolved issue has become the struggle of that relationship.

Couples can experience hundreds of disagreements, arguments and engage in abusive behaviours  within their relationship to establish a platform of equality, being heard or control.   But what I’ve come to see is the way couples fight with each other, establishes a pattern of how they deal with everything.

Every relationship has a power dynamic and an attitude that drives the beliefs, decision and emotions of each person.

The complex and complicated nature of relationships means that the power dynamic in each area of the relationship can cause friction and left unresolved causes tension and resentment.

Weapons of the relationship are money, children and sex.

In determining the risk of the argument, an investigation can unpack the concerns and dive deep to the issue.  It is commonly something within the aggressor (another hard task to identify by police).   The dissatisfaction in a relationship is increased by stress. A perceived loss of support in parenting, undermining of discipline, reckless spending, lies, omissions and behaviour that produces guilt and shame.  And this can be found in every household because it’s the place where you can be you, make mistakes, learn and breakdown with less judgement albiet high accountability to be the best version of you.

The classic undermining of a parent will show up when the other parent doesn’t want to take responsibility for the discipline or uphold the expectations of the family unit.

Mum will be get so angry if your room isn’t clean by the time she gets home.

I’ve had countless women share their experiences of unwanted sex because they felt obligated to please their husband or partner and as it would lessen the tension and aggression in the relationship.  Sex plays an intricate role in the intimacy experienced.  The lack of sex in a relationship is the absence of the connection. For this you’ll need to read so much more about how men and women see sex differently, the different kinds of sex and the chemical reaction it creates.

So in an overlapping issue, if one partner in a committed relationship engages in sex with some else, the betrayal is not the act of sex – but the lack of loyalty, trust and respect demonstrated by doing.   When partners find themselves in this situation the range of emotions is both intense and distressing.  The hurt felt by betrayal, lies and omissions is a direct insult on the capacity for the other partner to accept, understand or participate in a conversation that is well over due.   Cheating has long been a driver of resentment and revenge. It  breaks hearts and has the capacity to dissolve family units which defeats the purpose of the sneaking around.  The brave thing to do is stop, have that conversation just as you are with the person you intend to have sex with and consider the cost before you go there.   Why?  because the police can’t help you with this, a counselor can support you but can’t fix it and ultimately it’s about understanding what was lacking, missing or the capacity of the partner in his communication.

A new survey found 16 Percent of Couples Survive an Affair and up to 40% of marriage end because of one.   Despite the high percentage, most people — even those who stray — will say that cheating is wrong.

Often it’s the belief and social conditioning that our partner must provide everything for us.  It’s certainly true that we expect an intimate relationship to be sacred and exclusive.  More often low self-esteem can cause people to be very dependent on the attentions of their partner and  others—and in some cases, the attention of just one person isn’t enough.

It may also cause someone to feel insecure in their own relationship, so much so that they might cheat as a way of rejecting rather than being rejected, Guilt and shame for sex outside the marriage or partnership is normal and common, but the bigger issue and the microscope should be on why they didn’t feel they could discuss this insecurity with their partner.  It’s an opportunity for growth and to preserve the relationship.  Discussing this is a sign of respect for the other person. Not discussing it continues to be perceived as selfish, unthoughtful and mean.  Hurting someone you claim to love is a shame on you. Honesty is the ingredient for trust and without trust the relationship is over.

Finally money, this has been found to the root cause of many relationship breakdowns and is the driver of arguments inside and after it has disolved.  Money represents the time, energy and attention that partners put into a relationship. The paid and unpaid work, contributions and collaborations that go into building a family, home and lifestyle, and causing couples to ‘fight’.

This dynamic is difficult to identify as money is still a taboo subject, but I do know a healthy relationship can ‘talk’ about money, ‘discuss’ priorities and options and agree on fair and equitable outcomes for both.

So much has changed in 50 years and for the better, but money still provides a lot more value and self worth to many men who think their earnings are their own and that the support provided by a wife or stay at home mum or wife is of a non financial contribution.

Money drives abuse when it comes to power and control with decisions.  It’s an informal slavery that compels an obligation and combined with the power of sex I’ve had many women share they have felt like a prostitute. Harsh but true. The bedroom is a playground and a war zone.

This was one of the only studies I found on How Do Money, Sex and Stress Influence Marital Instability.

A study by Dew in 2009 found ‘A wives’ marital satisfaction and perception of how divorce would impact them financially fully mediated the relationship between assets and divorce (Dew, 2009) whilst further, financial satisfaction has been shown to be associated with marital satisfaction (Archuleta, Grable, & Britt, 2013).
“Finances, sex, and marital instability. Almost no studies have incorporated
finances, sex, and marital instability simultaneously. Those that do are often studies or reviews exploring the degree to which a variety of marital issues predict divorce. For example, Dew et al. (2012) found that among various topics  of conflict, financial and sexual conflict were two of the topics most predictive of divorce. No study has tested the relationships between financial and sexual stressors, resources, perceptions, and outcomes within marriage at the same time. This study is unique in incorporating both financial and
sexual variables in the same empirical model”

Worth a read – deep but offers a greater understanding of the stressors on relationships and how particular attitudes of entitlement develop.

Whether it’s saving, spending or investment – Money should never reflect the value of who you are.  Percentages are derived for a transactional purpose, but it doesn’t accurately reflect your contribution.

Without keeping the end goal in focus, partnerships and families loose sight of their why.   Why they are together.  If it’s not to add value to each others lives, to care and provide for each other, to support and strengthen them as well as receive the kindness, compassion and respect an intimate relationship can offer, then it’s time to go.  It’s simple and natural.  Life is short.

Incompatibility and irreconcilable differences is the distance between where your beliefs and thoughts intersect.  So if you don’t feel you are on the same page, if you are wanting to understand the discord, take action.

Hard conversations are worth the effort. Stay calm and express yourself respectfully.


The Apprehended Fear

Reasons why it may be so hard to leave

  • She is afraid of what the abuser will do if she leaves. The person who is abusive may have threatened to harm her, her relatives, or the children, pets or property. They may threaten to commit suicide if she talks about leaving. Many victims find that the abuse continues or gets worse after they leave.
  • She still loves her partner, because he or she is not abusive all of the time.
  • She has a commitment to the relationship or a belief that marriage is forever, for ‘better or worse’.
  • She hopes her partner will change. Sometimes the abusive person might promise to change. She might think that if the abuser stops drinking, the abuse will stop.
  • She thinks the abuse is her fault.
  • She feels she should stay ‘for the sake of the children’, and that it is best that children live with both parents. Her partner may have threatened to take or harm the children.
  • A lack of confidence. The person who is abusive will have deliberately tried to break down their partner’s confidence, and make her feel like she is stupid, hopeless, and responsible for the abuse. She may feel powerless and unable to make decisions.
  • Isolation and loneliness. The person who is abusive may have tried to cut her off from contact with family or friends. She might be afraid of coping on her own. If English is not her first language she might feel particularly isolated.
  • Pressure to stay from family, her community or church. She might fear rejection from her community or family if she leaves.
  • She may feel that she can’t get away from her partner because they live in a rural area, or because they have the same friends, or are part of the same ethnic, Aboriginal or religious community.
  • She doesn’t have the means to survive if the relationship ends. She might not have anywhere to live, or access to money, or transport, particularly if she lives in an isolated area. She may be dependent upon her partner’s income. If she has a disability, she may depend upon the abuser for assistance.

The Arena

What is domestic violence and family abuse?


Domestic Violence is a set of behaviours where the intention is to harm, hurt or hinder an intimate partner or family member using threats, harassment and intimidation either physically, emotionally, psychologically, financialy, socially or spiritually.

What might start out as natural conflict in a relationship, escalates to insults, isolation, injuries and a loss of self esteem. The behaviours are repeated and insidious, disguised as compromising and compensating usually accompanied by a breakdown in communication.

You may experience fear, a loss of identity, feeling crazy, easily angered, physically sick or cope by using drugs or alcohol. In some situations you may also feel like the abuser, adapting your behaviour to ‘play their game’.

The types of behaviour that constitute abuse are on a spectrum, and cross the boundary of respect into disrespect. This includes lying to deceive or hide and omitting information to manage or manipulate the outcome of a situation or conversation that gives them an advantage or control over you.

Controlling behaviours are known as coercive, and it might feel like you are obligated, guilted, bargained or blackmailed into doing something you wouldn’t normally or naturally do in that situation. It’s a method of communication that compells you to respond, instil fear to stop you or change your natural response. It casts doubt in your ability to make decision and leaves you feeling insecure and unworthy. It is a combination of words and actions intended to cause you harm if you don’t comply or hinder your next choice.


Domestic and Family Violence sits in between the Civil, Criminal and Family Law jursidictions. There are various laws that protect you from violent or abusive behaviour in a public place, yet victims of abuse can often submit or protect their abuser because he is not like that all the time and they do not want the relationship to end. They just want the violence and abuse to stop.

The Domestic Violence space is often a space of crisis, following an incident that has become unsafe for the victim and any children they might have. The escalated conflict has become uncomfortable, unmanageable and unpredictable instill anxiety and fear into the hearts and minds of victims. Explosive rage, blaming, threats to leave or intense disruptions to normal family routines in particular in the presence alcohol or drugs being used can create life long trauma for children of the partnership and the partner.

This dynamic also makes things more complicated because Family tolerance thresholds are much higher than the expectations of a stranger, even though this disrespect is a sign the relationship is breaking down. Sarcasm, demands and unreasonable expectations are not communication styles conducive to romance, intimacy or love. In fact, many families tolerate disrespectful behaviour as it is often the only place to safely express frustration, disgust or sadness : emotions derived from anger.


The family unit is the hub of communities and there are many organisations that support strategies and policy aimed at reducing Family Violence and Abuse. Advocacy, Agency and Action taking services guide, support and represent what is in yours or your Childrens’ best interests.

As mentioned victims of DFV are disempowered in moments where conflict becomes controlling and frightening. They learn how to avoid, manage and manipulate conversations and situations so the abuse and violence do not return. As time goes by, the threshold of abuse is stretched and it’s during this period of time that the victim is compared to the frog in boiling water. The luke warm phase suggests the ‘simmering away’,  making it feel like a compromise.

As the water heats ups, the frog acclimatizes to the circumstances, finding more ways to cope and different pathways to take to avoid the conflict. Finally, the water is so hot, that the frog is powerless to jump out.

Confusion, loss of perspective and compromised values are experienced by victims of abuse who may have also engaged in similar behaviour and therefore less likely to report to avoid being accused or held accountable for the very behaviour they are reporting.


Upon abuse and violence becoming the intolerable deal breaking behaviour, victims often seek protection, calling the Police to intervene, leaving the home or engaging a lawyer to act on their behalf.

As you can see the arena is wide and deep. Laywers, Police and Courts are responsible for enforcing legislation that stops this behaviour and holds the perpetrator accountable for their actions. It is an extreme response to a difficult and complex system. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify the issues and concerns, understand the process of finding a peaceful resolution and navigate a system that is complicated and costly.

Upstream Investigations provides primary prevention, pre court intervention and post application investigation services to help those disempowered or misidentified.

We know the current system is not always working, Police are over subscribed and under resourced, courts are backlogged and blinded by the crisis. That is why we are building an arena that provides alternative pathways that navigate away from violence, protect you from further abuse and allows you to find healthy and happyr relationships.


The current system allows any person to apply for a protection order without a police investigation as they have fears for their safety. Acts of violence and incidents of abuse should be reported to the Police for further investigation, but they cannot resolve the ongoing conflict triggered by issues and concerns of the relationship.

His infidelity, her overspending, lies, manipulation and the silent treatment are not illegal, but it is disrespectful. Counselors and Relationship Coaches can help you find different coping strategies or communication styles to express yourself once you identify those issues and concerns.


That’s where we drop in. As trained and trauma informed practitioners, Upstream Investigations works through your story to identify the issues and concerns. We then assess and make recommendations based on your personal circumstances and provide you with the options and opportunities to make the situation better and safer. Our primary goal is about protection followed closely by seeking justice, a fair, equitable and objective investigation will help you identify the role you place in the conflict. Enabler or Rescuer.

Relationships are complex, placing obligations and value on you as an individual and your worth as partner or member of your tribe. Our process embeds self respect, self belief, self confidence and self awareness into the hearts and minds of our clients so they walk away feeling there is hope and direction.

We want to build an arena where it is safe for women to say no and chase their dreams, where men can express their emotions and feel connected, but more importantly, where children feel safe, secure and loved by the people that are closest to them.


Apprehended fear is anxiety. The thoughts and feelings that you may be hurt. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You can control what you do. There are natural consequences for others who make choices that don’t align with yours. Let them, and let them go.

Choose the arena that solves the problem and creates opportunities for happiness.

I found this podcast by the ANZMH with Amy Mouafi, a specialist in Domestic Violence and Public Policy that shares a great insight into the landscape and ecosystem.