Relationships – Understanding the Signs, Symptoms and Solutions
An abusive relationship is one in which one
person tries to control or dominate the other – emotionally or physically. Although abuse can occur in any type of
relationship (parent/child, among spouses, friends, siblings, etc.) the most common type of
abusive relationships are
between intimate partners – also referred to as domestic abuse or spousal abuse. If you think you or someone you know is being
abused, what do you do? The answer may not be as simple as you think. Often times the victim may not see a way out,
holds out hope that it will get better, or refuses to acknowledge that abuse is taking place – especially if
they're in a committed relationship and/or there are children involved. Abuse can also take different shapes and
forms, which can make it tricky to detect. The sad truth is, abusive behavior doesn't simply go away. And even if
the relationship ends, the effects of abuse can leave lifelong scars on its victims.
relationships can be physical or emotional. The abuser typically has extreme trust issues and
insecurities, and attempts to cover them up with controlling and/or aggressive behavior. If you feel you're
walking on eggshells for fear of doing or saying something that will set your partner off, chances are you are
in an abusive relationship.
The most common
symptoms of abusive relationships are: a fear of upsetting your partner, and feelings of worthlessness, depression,
anxiety, and helplessness. Sometimes the victim may feel a sense of accomplishment when they've managed to keep the
abuser happy. This is a false sense of victory, since it usually involves not having a voice or opinion, or "lying
met Paul, she was quickly swept off her feet into a whirlwind romance. She was flattered that Paul lavished so much
attention on her. Kristen initially found it endearing that he wanted to spend so much time together. But as the
weeks turned into months, Kristen began avoiding her friends and family. Her bubbly personality retreated as she
struggled with the burden of keeping Paul happy - and the fear and guilt of disappointing
The driving force
behind emotional abuse is for the abuser to emotionally disable the victim – to make him or her feel worthless, and
incapable of independence. The person on the receiving end of abuse may be confused and even feel responsible for
the abuser's words and actions. A verbally abusive relationship is considered emotional abuse as well. Although
name calling and insults are common forms of verbal abuse, any form of verbal manipulation (sarcasm, humiliation)
that undermines someone's confidence and sense of self-worth is considered verbal and emotional
Signs of an Emotionally Abusive
humiliating you – in private or in front of others. The abuser may do this in an aggressive manner, or may
justify it as "humor".
Limiting your access
to money, a car, etc. – The abuser requires that you go to him or her first and ask permission. You might
also be required to show the receipts of your purchases. Financial abuse can also include your being prevented from
Excessive jealousy or
possessiveness - The abuser is suspicious of your activity when you're away. Suspicion turns to anger when
you don't answer your phone or respond to text messages. Making plans to spend time with others can trigger the
abuser's anger as well.
Ridicules or dismisses
your opinions and thoughts – This includes treating you as an extension of the abuser, and having an opinion
outside of the abuser's perspective is not tolerated.
Unable to acknowledge
their mistakes or apologize – Abusers tend to blame others for their own feelings or problems, and are
unable to laugh at themselves.
Puts down or sabotages
your personal goals and ambitions – Doing anything outside of the abuser's personal objectives can trigger
abuse, an emotionally abusive relationship can be difficult to detect, and both the abuser and victim may be
unaware that abuse is taking place. The effects of emotional abuse can be just as harmful, if not more harmful than
physical abuse, since it can go on for years undetected - undermining your sense of worth and crippling your true
What causes some
people to abuse others? Often, it's due to unresolved childhood traumas and emotional wounds that have evolved into
deep trust issues and insecurities. If you think you may be abusing someone you love, working with a trained
counselor or life coach is the most effective way of resolving these issues
and learning how to move forward in a healthier relationship. If you think you are being
emotionally abused, talking with a trained professional will provide you with the insight and tools needed for
setting boundaries and repairing the effects of emotional and psychological damage –
whether you decide to stay in the relationship or not.
behavior within an intimate relationship – also referred to as domestic violence - often starts
with verbal abuse or threats, and escalates into physical violence. Any form of physical force used to control or
intimidate someone is considered physical abuse. Punching, slapping, pulling hair, shoving, pinching... no matter
how minor the abuse may seem, or how infrequently it happens, physical abuse should be taken seriously. Even a
shove can cause a serious fall. And once abuse begins, the chances of it happening again are very
possible solutions for the victim of abuse, we must first understand how the cycle of abusive relationships
abusive person usually has more control over their behavior than they would have you believe. They are careful to
choose who they lash out at, and when their outbursts occur. After the abuse, they may act remorseful and
apologetic. This is not because they genuinely regret their behavior, but because they fear getting caught or
losing you. They may still blame you for their abusive behavior, and avoid taking full responsibility. But when
they are faced with the possibility of losing you or fear the consequences of their actions, they make promises to
change. For a while, the abuse stops. This period of improved behavior can lead the victim into believing the
abuser has changed for good. But suspicions, jealousy and repressed anger will continue eating at him or her, until
the cycle of abuse starts all over again.
Signs of a
Physically Abusive Relationship
If you think
someone you know is being abused, what do you do? Let them know they can talk to you about anything, whenever
they're ready. Validate their concerns, listen to what they say, and support them. Offer to help. Don't give them
ultimatums, and never push them. They are in a very vulnerable position and setting conditions on your friendship
will only push them away and isolate them further.
relationships – no matter how minor the abuse may seem - or what type of relationship it is – should never
be taken lightly. Help is available for both abusers and victims. Acknowledging there is a problem is the first
step. Reaching out for help is the most important step. Speaking with a life coach can shed light on your options
and help you gain understanding on what's going on and how to resolve issues of abuse. To make an appointment for a
free initial consultation with a certified life coach, click here.
If you feel you may be in immediate danger, call the
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 911.
help is just a phone call
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