You loved each other once. Now, you aren’t even sure why you’re still in a relationship. You say awful things to each other. Your partner screams or puts hands on you. You’ve felt trapped more days than not. You don’t feel heard or respected. You’re afraid. After the arguments you’re sorry. You wish it never happened, but you don’t know how to stop the cycle. Maybe you know why your partner’s like that, maybe you don’t. You can’t sort out how you got here; how you turned into these people. Perhaps you’ve already left and you’re trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what’s next for you. All you know is that this is bigger than you. You know you need help.
Whether heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous, or any other form- it can happen to you. It’s important to know that this can happen to men or women. The common theme is a man abusing a woman, but it’s important to know that there are women abusers and male survivors. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate.
What exactly is domestic violence? We hear the term all the time, but it most often brings to mind ideas of physical violence. It involves so much more. There are many forms: emotional violence in the form of name calling, cussing, stonewalling or generally creating a hostile environment; financial control; spiritual abuse; sexual abuse; stalking behaviors and more.
It’s a myth that abusers don’t care about their victims. It’s also a myth that if it were that bad you’d leave. If only it were that easy. Abusive relationships are complex. It’s never as simple as stay or go. They’re rife with miscommunications, addictions, trauma, lack of coping skills, and fear. They’re also very often a pair of people who love each other but don’t know how to live with one another. The most important part though is knowing that It is possible to change a relationship when everyone is willing.
If you’re in an abusive relationship it can be difficult to find your way out. Healthy relationships require healthy models. People don’t learn their skills from nowhere. Most often, those in these kinds of relationships have had poor relationship models. My abusive relationship clients don’t know how to fight in a healthy manner.
Perhaps you’re traumatized and quick to anger. Perhaps you’re conflict avoidant and don’t speak up until you finally blow up. Whatever the case, therapy works to get to the bottom of these issues, heal what’s there, and teach you new skills in the areas of communication, healthy arguing, boundaries, parenting and all other areas of a relationship. Whether you’re the abuser or the victim- you deserve help. I work with both sides.
- Is this really an abusive relationship?
- What is domestic violence?
- Why and how did I become abusive?
- Why didn’t I leave?
- Why didn’t I leave sooner?
- How did I miss the warning signs?
- Why do I continue to get in relationships like this?
- Why do I behave this way?
- Why can’t we get along?
- How can we communicate without it escalating?
- How can we stop this cycle of abusive behavior?
- And most importantly: How do we do things differently?
Once you heal your own personal wounds and deal with the damage that has been done, you can work to create the relationship that you want. You can take back control from the hurt, anger, and abuse, and work to build the closeness that you’ve been seeking, whether in your current relationship, or in the future after recovering from such a relationship. The future can be one of hope instead of a vision of the same patterns on repeat. With some work and some guidance, you can absolutely have the relationship you want.