During my placement I’ve had the opportunity to provide 1:1 sessions with a parent who is finding it hard to leave her domestic abusive relationship. She is in denial about the extent of the abuse, therefore leading to her children being subject to a child protection plan.
Without going into too much detail, after unraveling the history of her childhood, it was clear that she suffers from attachment issues; thus being a big factor in her ‘settling’ for abusive men.
Understandably, if you’ve grown up in a toxic family, or around ‘caregivers’ who failed to praise you or shower you with affection; it will be difficult to grow up feeling valued or with any dose of self-esteem, if you have never been exposed to it throughout your formative years, most especially by your parents.
For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll be using the term ‘domestic abuse’. Although others may prefer ‘domestic violence’ – I find that with the latter, one may be tempted to assume that abuse is only physical.
Side note:Abuse takes place in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The abuser could be a female or a male. For the purpose of the blog, I will be speaking from a heterosexual standpoint, referring to the abuser as being male due to abusers predominantly being males.
Toxic abusive relationships usually follow a pattern:
- Gaining of Trust– The potential abuser is attentive, loving and charming
- Over-Involvement – The abuser becomes overly involved in the daily life and use of time
- Petty Rules and Jealousy – Rules begin to be inserted to begin control of the relationship. Jealousy is considered by the abuser to be ‘an act of love’
- Manipulation, Power & Control – The victim is blamed for the abuser’s behaviour and becomes coerced and manipulated
- Traumatic Bonding –The reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change.
— CYCLE CONTINUES —
Until you are brave enough to leave the toxic relationship.
It is worthy to note that perpetrators (abusers) believe that they have the right to control their partners. Their aim is to maintain power and control over the partners.
Power and control are demonstrated in the following ways against the victims:
- Emotional and Mental Abuse(putting another down, ignoring or discounting activities and accomplishments, withholding approval or affection, making another feel as though they are crazy, unreasonable jealousy, mind games)
- Economic and Financial Abuse
- Using Children or Pets
- Using Privileges ( Treating another like a servant, making all the big decisions, being the one to define male and females roles, acting like the master or queen of the castle)
- Sexual Abuse
- Physical Abuse
Below are the personalities disorders (according to Psychological Studies) which are most likely to display abusive behaviours:
Antisocial Personality Disorder – These individuals tend to display a grandiose sense of self-worth. Due to their shallow effect and lack of remorse or empathy, they are well suited to con and/or manipulate others into complying with their wishes
Histrionic Personality Disorder – These individuals need to be the center of attention, and in turn, they draw people in so they may use (and eventually dispose of) their relationship.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder– These individuals have an inflated sense of self-importance, hypersensitivity to criticism and a sense of entitlement that compels them to persuade others to comply with their requests. This is in order to maintain their self-esteem, and protect their vulnerable true selves.
Every relationship goes through disagreements. And disagreements does not necessarily boil down to ‘abuse’. It is important to know the difference.
A fair fight is typically about the issues and not about self-esteem. An abusive fight ends with male dominance and female submission; Therefore a winner and a loser.
This subtle shift in the focus of the pattern of the couple’s arguments usually occurs early in the relationship.
Because this pattern is so subtle and hard to initially identify, our culture has been slow to identify it as abuse.
This process will continue as long as the man denies the impact of these tactics on the woman, and as long as the woman also denies being victimised.
To further complicate the matter, abusers often keep up excellent public appearances.
Unfortunately, in most cultures, women are socialised to accept their role as passive recipients of male energy.
When a woman fights, her aggression follows a sequence:
Crying is the first release for most women. But when fury builds up even higher, she can erupt into physical aggression, to the horror, amusement or embarrassment of the abuser and those around her.
Know the signs, but most importantly, know your self-worth.
Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to someone you trust. Seek therapy. Leave. You deserve better.