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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

      Doctor of Psychology

      Entitled Kids Are Parents’ Biggest Enemies How to Regain Broken Trust in a Relationship Most Overlooked Signs of Autism in Children (And What Parents Can Do) Parents Are Their Own Worst Enemies How To Raise Healthy, Happy Kids After Going Through a Divorce

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      Last Updated on August 16, 2018

      Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

      Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

      He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

      If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

      What is a narcissistic personality?

      Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

      In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

      Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

      the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

      The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

      Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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      Traits of a narcissist:

      • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
      • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
      • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
      • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
      • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

      How are narcissists different from others?

      Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

      Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

      We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

      Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

      Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

      Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

      Why do people become narcissists?

      1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

      The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

      Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

      Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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      Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

      2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

      Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

      Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

      Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

      How to deal with a narcissist?

      1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

      There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

      2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

      Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

      Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

      3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

      Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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      When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

      This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

      4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

      Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

      Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

      There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

      If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

      5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

      You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

      There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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      Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

      6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

      Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

      7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

      If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

      Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

      For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

      8. Learn when to walk away.

      When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

      If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

      Reference

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