When we hear domestic abuse we often think of physical abuse, in fact, I had no idea that emotional, physiological, and mental abuse fell under the term. But the term domestic abuse literally means an abuse of power. A more proper definition is, “It is the domination, coercion, intimidation and victimisation of one person by another by physical, sexual or emotional means within intimate relationships.”
This article is a bit more personal, because I have put myself into abusive relationships where I have lost all sense of self-worth, values, and confidence. Between the manipulation, gaslighting, and controlling behavior (such as shaming me for posting my body on the gram), I got blinded and I felt trapped. But hey, at least now I know all about abusive behavior. Woo!
A power and control relationship includes using intimidation, using emotional abuse (puts downs, making you feel guilty, making you feel bad about yourself), using isolation (controlling what you do, what you see, using jealously to justify actions), minimizing/denying and blaming (making light of the abuse, saying it didn’t happen, putting blame onto victim), using children to make you feel guilty, using male privilege, using economic abuse, and using coercion and threats.
The cycle of abuse comes in 4 stages. It begins with tensions building (the victim becomes fearful and feels the need to please the abuser), incident occurs (anger, blaming, threats, intimidation), reconciliation (abuser apologizes, gives excuses, & blames victim), and ends with the honeymoon phase (calmness, victim is hopeful things will change) and a big fat dose of denial takes place.
This may all sound obvious, like duh this is abusive and controlling. But when you’re actually in the cycle, the guilt and blame works as a tool to make you stay. The more shame, blame, and fear I felt the more I believed I deserved it. I abandoned my own needs, (a common outcome of dealing with abuse), and I wanted to fix my partner so badly, make them see that I wasn’t the only problem. Help them see that this insecure and controlling behavior was always an issue, it wasn’t just me who brought it on. Many empaths (people who are the healers, the nurturers, the highly sensitive lovers that give, and give, and give, often to the point of exhaustion), are great victims for abusers. I wanted to heal, help, and mend their trauma and pains. In some way, I thought if I could help them it would help me.
This article isn’t going to go more into abusive patterns, how to walk away from an abuser, or what signs to look out for. This is going to be about the work. The difficult tuning in process that allows us to somewhat heal. This is for the people who attract this behavior into their life and don’t know why. It’s very common for the victim to want to understand the abuser, replay the situations, or keep blaming themselves. But my therapist said something that inspired this article and myself, “Focus on what you need to to heal. What attracted you to that type of person rather than focusing on them.” And boom. My healing journey truly began.
In order to heal from abuse, it takes a lot of strength and honesty within yourself. Walking away from them is a great start but if you don’t face those demons the same person will show up again.
I’ve always had my shit. My self destructive patterns, self-sabotaging my life constantly, wanting to fix others, and little self value. I know I’m a bad bitch, so when I say low self value I don’t mean in my appearance or talents, I mean mentally not so confident. Growing up, my mother would bring me down with verbal phrases and when she became very sick I completely lost myself and my needs. Not to mention I also lost my virginity at 13 to a complete scumbag.
I’ve always known that my past has gotten me into toxic places, and that I need to work on that part of me. But unfortunately life get’s busy, I get distracted, and I don’t truly take the time. And this is a problem for many people. We seem to believe that life is on a race track and the universe is in a rush. Our pains and experiences that shape us are left in the dark for something else. Something exciting or light. In a city like New York, I especially felt this. The pressure to keep grinding, moving, and ultimately not healing within.
Taking the time to truly understand and work through your own shit is the best way to rise above controlling and abusive behavior. I believe as a society we struggle with putting aside time to actually heal. It’s one thing to do self-care and another to dig through your childhood trauma or your verbally abusive dad. In the US especially, we struggle with reaching out for help, taking time away from work, and being completely open and vulnerable with ourselves. I say this because our value system is based upon money, success, and individualism. We are not a collective society and this can become isolating, making it difficult to ask for help or realize you need help.
Needing help to battle and work through your pain is completely okay. We all have something fucked up inside us, some people are just better at ignoring, distracting, or sedating it. I wouldn’t be able to process everything if it weren’t for my therapist and support system I’ve built. We shouldn’t have to fight these feelings alone, a belief that we have seemed to build in society and especially within healing.
Healing is a collective activity. Having people who can help you, listen to you, and heal with you is crucial. It sounds simple, building a support group, but it’s more difficult than we think because in order to build a group that can help you – they also must be willing to help themselves. Which many people are not. Many people are okay with living in a world full of distractions from the pain they feel.
So take the time to slow down, it’s okay to not be where you want yet. Like I mentioned, the world is in no rush. Build a support system with others who can be there for you and try to heal yourself. You won’t heal over night and you may not ever heal 100%. But that’s okay, and there’s no pressure on how long it takes.
This process is really hard, and if you’re in an abusive relationship and someone tells you to just “walk away” I give you permission to curse them out. People who are not in the cycle or never have been love to tell those who are to just walk away.
Instead of giving this classic line, help them figure out how they got there. Ask them how they feel about their self-worth, if they have a history of abuse, how it feels when the abuse happens, and how you can best help. Asking these types of questions and trying to understand their struggle is a hell lot better than “just get out.”
This convo will be hard, and it may bring up some of your own issues, but that’s the beauty of healing together and asking for help. You never know who else feels the same or can relate to your struggle. ❤