Over the course of a lifetime, it seems that each of us will have to deal with a hurtful or abusive relationship at one point or another. Whether it be an overly critical mother-in-law or an aggressive spouse, we have to find a way to come out above it all before our emotional bank is exhausted.
Sometimes it’s easier to blame ourselves and believe that we’re selfish for expecting more, but we all deserve to be loved in a way that uplifts us rather than demoralizes us. If you’ve ever heard that little saying, “Treat others as you would like to be treated” you know what I mean.
In abusive relationships, the victims often worry more about the abusers feelings than their own. They put their needs last and over time, begin to believe that their feelings are somehow less important. The abuser fails to meet their needs and the victim is left to believe that they don’t count. But, if we take the saying above and adjust it slightly we come up with a recipe of words that can benefit victims. “Treat yourself as you believe others should be treated”. Putting someone you love first, does not mean having to put yourself last. If a victim is ever to escape the cycle of abuse, they must first realize that they deserve the same consideration as any other individual and learn to make themselves a priority. By understanding abuse and how it functions, we can change our perspective of ourselves and begin to realize our true worth.
You deserve love.
- Low self-esteem
- Financial worries
- Fear of retaliation
- Fear of being alone
- Emotional attachment
- Belief that abuse is “normal”
Know the warning signs of abuse.
- Jealousy, possessiveness, being bossy or demanding.
- Controls your life by limiting contact with family, friends, controlling the things you say or do in public, etc. Takes over finances, household decisions, doesn’t trust you to make choices or allow your input in discussions. Keeps track of everything you do, repeatedly attacks you for any actions that they disapprove of.
- Loses control when upset, reacts aggressively to things you say and do.
- Addictions, affairs, drug use, history of abusive relationships or childhood, warnings from family and friends about their behavior.
- Blames you for their anger and abuse towards you. Threatens you, hits you, pressures you to do things your not comfortable with, sexual acts, illegal or immoral acts, etc.
- Destroys your personal property and sentimental items when angry.
- Constantly criticizes and demeans you with little or no consideration for your feelings.
- On/Off relationship, you leave, but keep returning, can’t seem to stay away despite knowing the relationship is hurting for you.
So what is a healthy relationship?
- Communicating honestly and openly.
- Listening without judgement and responding to each other’s opinions and valuing the others perspective and feelings.
- Helping those you love to reach their personal life goals as well as your family goals.
- Respecting and appreciating their interests and unique traits.
- Acknowledging mistakes or bad behaviors and apologizing.
- Changing bad behaviors when it hurts someone.
- Open to self-help, outside help and counseling when needed.
- Sharing the responsibilities of parenthood, work, household chores and other duties.
- Compromising, rather than arguing when there is a disagreement.
Setting & enforcing boundaries.
- Learn to say “no”
- Demand respect & don’t back down
- Realize that you deserve the right to defend yourself
- Speak your mind & point out unacceptable behaviors
- Encourage change in your abuser, but don’t think that their change is your responsibility
When to walk away.
- Denial – We are shocked by what is happening and refuse to accept it.
- Anger – We don’t understand why this is happening. We blame ourselves or others.
- Bargaining – We try to make deals with God or others in an attempt to make the problem go away.
- Depression – As we begin to realize our loss, we are left with the hurt and hopelessness of the results.
- Acceptance – We understand and accept the loss as it is.
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- Changing for Good by James O. Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente
- Facing Codependency by Pia Mellody, Andrea Wells Miller, J. Keith Miller
- It’s My Life Now by Meg Kennedy Dugan, Roger R. Hock
- Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge
- A Journey Through Grief by Alla Renee Bozarth