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If It Hurts, It’s Not Love: Why Not to Stay in an Abusive Relationship

If It Hurts, It’s Not Love: Why Not to Stay in an Abusive Relationship

Abuse is not love. It is about power and control over a person. It usually starts small in a relationship and becomes a bigger problem over time. Abuse doesn’t typically begin with physical harm; it begins with emotional harm.

The abuse gets worse as the relationship progresses. He/She may not be hitting you while you are dating, but the controlling behaviors are often evident early in the relationship. Those controlling ways are abuse. That’s why it is so imperative to recognize the signs of abuse before you are in too deeply.

The impact of abuse is much more widespread than people acknowledge.

You may be thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you aren’t being abused, but it does, because someone you know is being abused.

Abuse has no socioeconomic, racial, or cultural barriers. It happens to people who are rich and to people who are poor. It can happen to anyone, in any walk of life. An article on Livestrong.com provides some important information about abuse and states:[1]

“Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 to 44”.

This means that women in this age range are more likely to be harmed by their partner than they are to be injured in a car accident.

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Abuse is not just about physical harm.

Many people associate abuse with physical harm, but there is so much more involved in abuse than physical harm. Abuse is about a person wanting control over another person. That desire for control leads to a variety of controlling behaviors including isolation from friends and family, threats, emotional abuse, and more.

Most domestic violence centers use the “Power and Control Wheel” to show the types of abuse, as they go far beyond the physical. Abuse is about power and control which come in these forms, often far before the physical abuse ever begins:

    Abusers may change, but not very likely.

    Most abused individuals who stay in the relationship do so because they hope the person will change. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research or data that points to abusers changing their ways.

    Is it possible? Yes, but many researchers, including well known abuse expert Lundy Bancroft, say that an abuser changing their ways is a lifelong process and will only happen if an abuser is determined to change.[2] It is like a disease that never truly goes away but just becomes dormant.

    In the case of abuse, it will only become dormant because the abuser seeks help and has decided not to abuse anymore. You also need to consider the likelihood of them changing, which experts say is not promising. The National Domestic Violence Hotline states,[3]

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    “There’s a very low percentage of abusers who truly do change their ways.”

    It takes a huge effort on the part of an abuser to change their ways. If you are dating someone that exhibits the signs of abuse you need to seriously assess your future and what it will be like when the abuse gets worse as time progresses.

    How to Know if They Have Changed

    How do you know if your abuser has really changed or if they have really stopped abusing you?

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline describes how an abuser exhibits genuine change. Some of these changes include him no longer making excuses for the abusive behavior, recognizing the controlling patterns that underly the abuse, making amends with those he abused, and most importantly exhibiting new behaviors when a situation becomes heated.

    An Open Letter From a Former Abuser provides a real life example of how an abuser changed and describes how difficult that change can be:[4]

    Are you able to express your opinion to your partner without fear of him lashing out at you verbally or physically? Are you able to be open and honest with your partner about your feelings and feel comfortable that he won’t respond abusively?

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    If not, then he hasn’t really changed.

    Abuse is cyclical. The abuse may just be in the post-abuse phase (also known as the honeymoon phase). The honeymoon phase of abuse is when your partner is being sweet and kind, trying to make up for the recent abuse he inflicted on you. The change isn’t real if it goes right back into the cycle of abuse after time has passed and he has begun to forget about how he abused you.

    The Domestic Violence Round Table explains the three phases of abuse very clearly:[5]

      The honeymoon phase is usually what keeps most abused individuals in the relationship. They have such high hopes that things will remain in that phase that they stay in the relationship after an abusive episode has happened.

      In most cases the abuser has not sought professional help and the abuse cycle will continue. It’s just a matter of time before the cycle starts over. It’s up to you whether you stick around in an abusive relationship to be abused again. If you are being abused, end the cycle by seeking help today.

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      If you are being abused, get help now.

      Life is too short to allow yourself to be harmed and mistreated by another human being. Nobody deserves that treatment. There are domestic violence centers all around the country that help abused individuals for free. You can also contact the National Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for immediate and free help.

      If it is a friend or family member that is being abused you need to be supportive and listen to her. It is extremely hard for a person to leave an abusive situation because of a variety of reasons, so you need to be supportive and not judgmental.

      Some reasons that a person may not leave include: they fear embarrassment, they don’t have the money to start a life on their own, they love the person, or a number of other reasons. Often it’s not just one reason, which makes it even more difficult to leave. The Love Is Respect Website outlines many of the reasons why people stay in abusive relationships.[6] Provide your abused friend with resources for help, such as information from you local domestic violence shelter or hotline. Most importantly, be there to listen to your friend and not judge her for her difficult situation and decisions.

      Professional help is what an abuser needs. The National Domestic Violence Hotline states that abusers need to participate in a “Certified Batterer Intervention Program” if they want to change.

      If you can’t leave, create a plan for your safety.

      Sometimes a person is not prepared to leave their abusive situation for a variety of reasons. She may not have a place to stay, not have any money, fear embarassment, or any number of reasons. It is important to have a safety plan in place so that if things escalate in an abusive situation you can easily get to a safe place.

      Some ways to prepare include having a plan for multiple escape routes in the home, have a specific friend or contact to call for help, have money saved for emergency exit, and have information for a local domestic violence center near you. The “Stop Relationship Abuse” Website provides greater detail on safety planning including having important documents such as birth certificates on hand in case you have to leave in an emergency.[7]

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dr. Magdalena Battles

      A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

      Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor How To Stop Insecure Attachment from Wreaking Havoc on Your Love Life 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome and Stop Feeling Lonely

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      Published on November 28, 2018

      How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

      How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

      The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

      So how to do meditation?

      The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

      Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

      From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

      You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

      1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

      Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

      The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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      The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

      Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

      2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

      Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

      Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

      Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

      • Living things, such as plants
      • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
      • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
      • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
      • Furniture away from walls
      • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
      • Incense or something else that smells good
      • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

      Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

      3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

      In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

      However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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      In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

      Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

      Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

      4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

      Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

      Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

      Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

      5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

      At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

      Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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      We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

      This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

      6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

      As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

      Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

      If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

      If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

      7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

      What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

      Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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      1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
      2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
      3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
      4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
      5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

      As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

      Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

      You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

      Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

      You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

      Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

      You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

      You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

      As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

      Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
      [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
      [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
      [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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