Non-Battering or Low-Battering Abuse
With rare exceptions, primary aggressors try to avoid anything like traditionally-defined violence, which in these pages is referred to as battering. Survivors understandably share this goal, and overwhelmingly, they back down and submit if the primary aggressor escalates.
For this reason, a low battering abusive relationship is usually a testament to survivor resourcefulness, not an indication of respect and freedom. A relationship with no or little battering is the rule not the exception in domestic abuse, and that is true as well even for abusive relationships that eventually end in murder. Low battering alone is not a sign of low lethality.
There is also a common pattern of abuse termed 'water-torture.' With this, a highly self-controlled primary aggressor keeps up a study drip of small but demeaning and crazy-making power behaviors at low volume. Often it is the survivor that loses composure and acts out. The primary aggressor than believes he can either 'restrain' the survivor quite harshly, 'in self-defense', or claim that the survivor is the aggressor, and the only one who is hitting (which is only superficially true).
The statement " I never touched her..." is rarely absolutely true. However, it does accurately reflect a secondary goal of most primary aggressors to never use battering. But also the statement "I never touched her..." is not central to the intervention in domestic abuse. Who is battering whom is important, but even more important, is who is controlling or limiting whom, because it is that that drives escalation and ultimate lethality.