Abuse Me, Lose Me
Author: richard jones
It's usually much easier to get into an abusive relationship than to get out of it. Everything from fear of retaliation to feeling helpless can make it difficult for a victim of abuse to sever ties with the abuser. Things like unemployment, underemployment, codependency, and not wanting the children to suffer (though they probably already are!) can also make it extremely hard for the victim to simply walk away. And in dire cases, the pernicious prospect of being publicly humiliated or perhaps even murdered by the abuser might paralyze the victim.
Such are reasons to do everything you can to avoid an abusive relationship altogether or stand ready to swiftly exit it if you find yourself in one. But as most victims of abuse will tell you, wanting to be strong and sagacious in this manner isn't as much a challenge as finding the actual will-power and wherewithal to do so.
Therefore, this article introduces some powerful principles that can keep you out of an abusive relationship or from staying in one. I urge you to take these principles to heart and seriously apply them to your life because they'll be useful to you regardless of your gender and because your partner's first or next act of aggression may just be one from which you can't recover.
Eluding or escaping an abusive relationship begins with you rejecting the idea that "it's a thin line between love and hate." Not only are love and hate separate and distinct ways of viewing and treating others; the "line" between these attitudes and approaches to relationships is as wide as the universe itself. It's not love that drives someone to hurt or harm another person. It's not love that compels someone to attempt to control others at all cost. On the contrary, love brings out the best in us even during the worst of times. Instead of stirring a desire in us to keep up a lot of "drama," love provides us with motivation and a manner of making the most of whatever moments we share. So be aware that if your partner claims to love you, it's only fitting that they follow-up that declaration by doing things which build you up rather than tear you down.
You will not tolerate being abused if you also believe that your own health and happiness are more important than having a wife, husband, or honey. You are just as significant as your significant other; and a diminished you is detrimental to you, your relationships, and every good thing you desire. Love yourself enough to liberate yourself from such a need for acceptance that you lose yourself in gaining it. Love yourself and others by doing what, first of all, is best for you.
Never allow anyone to isolate you from your family, friends, and acquaintances. These people can be a vital source of positive affirmation, strength, support, wisdom, and protection. Even if they're not such good people, they're still your family, your friends, and your acquaintances; and no one except you and them should be allowed to determine the nature of those relationships. Don't develop the habit of neglecting your partner to please or appease others, and don't burn any bridges only to get burned by your partner.
Learn how to be independent as well as interdependent in a relationship. Don't relinquish control of your thoughts, feelings, and desires to anyone. Always reserve the right to be yourself, to do your own thing, and to make choices that are different from what your partner might choose for you. If your partner truly respects you, your partner won't attempt to force you to do anything, but will respect your freedom and dignity as a human being. If your partner truly respects you as a mature and responsible adult, your partner won't treat you like a child, but will offer insight into matters without insisting that you affirm or conform to their opinion. Don't dummy-down for your partner. And don't become so dependent on your partner that you cease to think for yourself or make decisions that sometimes are you purely your own.
You're not anyone's property because you're a person and not a thing. No one owns you, so don't act like you literally belong to your partner. Don't carry on in the relationship like you're some domesticated slave obligated to do massa's will. Your partner doesn't have any rights to or over you. Be your own person and love freely, if at all. Besides, love, to be, must be free. And if you have freedom in your love, wrote one poet, only the angels above enjoy such liberty.
Be yourself, be true yourself, and honor your partner's right to do the same. And in so doing, focus on who your partner truly is rather than who you'd like for them to be. Don't fall in love with a figment of your imagination because your relationship can only languish in jeopardy if it's founded on a lie. Rely on much observation and not just conversation to learn your partner's true personality, priorities, and pursuits. And don't pressure your partner to pretend by constantly telling them how you want them to act. Watch how they act while always bearing in mind that often a person is what they consistently do (or don't do!), especially when they're under pressure.
Be very careful about telling your partner, especially a prospective partner, what you want in a lover and relationship because what you say can and often will be used against you. Instead of working so hard and feverishly to ensure that your partner does and gives you just what you want, relax, be patient, and enjoy their company while seeing what they have to offer. Don't help anyone deceive you by talking too much. Note as much about the actual person as you do their potential. And don't you dare count on them to "change for the better." If you're lucky, what you see is what you'll get from now until who-knows-when.
Express your emotions, but don't succumb to emotionalism. Emotions broken from the cage of sound reasoning and reality checks will cloud your judgment and spoil your actions. Follow your heart, but the facts as well. Acknowledge whatever disparity exists between what you want and what you have; between what the relationship could be and what it actually is. And if you find too great a gap between what the relationship is and what you need for it to be, exit it before it becomes the worst thing that you've ever had. Don't permit your emotions to run amok in and over your life. Don't feel your way into a living hell.
The only pain you should experience in the relationship per se is growing pains. Don't tolerate disrespect - things like dishonesty, "polite put-downs," outright name-calling, tongue thrashings, guilt trips, being cursed out, threats of violence or abandonment, slapping, grabbing, and other forms of assaultive contact. At the slightest sign that your partner is moving toward demeaning and dictating to you, kindly but sternly warn your partner that you won't allow yourself to be mistreated. Don't be like the kid who cried wolf, sounding so many false alarms that your partner eventually ignores all your idle threats. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don't settle for less than honesty, respect, good communication, and the kind of problem-solving that can strengthen the relationship.
To forgive someone and even continue loving them doesn't mean that you have to maintain a close relationship with them. Sometimes a long, long distance relationship or no relationship at all is the best choice. Moreover, understand the difference between explanations and excuses. Perhaps everything can be explained, but not all explanations, even some of the best ones, are good excuses. You don't have to excuse your partner's behavior just because there may be explanations for it. Regardless of how much you care for your partner, there might come a time when you'll need to flee the relationship even while extending forgiveness.
You don't have to live with everyone you love. More specifically, to love someone unconditionally doesn't mean you can't attach conditions to any aspect of your relationship. Unconditional love means that you will always care for the person, want what's best for them, and do what you reasonably can to help them do, have, and become every good thing they desire. Nonetheless, whether you seek or sustain a romantic, marriage, or sexual relationship with them should depend on how you treat one another and make each other feel. Believing otherwise will only make you feel obligated to stay with your partner and try to make it work regardless of what your partner is or isn't doing to and for you. Therefore, adhere to this principle: 'We shall be lovers for as long as we are loving. If we cease to be loving, we shall cease to be lovers though I may always love you.'
Misery might love company, but you don't have to be the one who entertains it. If being with your partner becomes more of a bane than blessing, you should get out the relationship "soon and very soon," especially if either of you are more determined and doing more to incinerate the relationship than to improve it.
It's the nature of love to give us hope. So you may wish to reconcile with your partner after a time of separation. Just understand that it's best to get away from an abuser as soon as you can and get back with them only if they demonstrate in many ways, over a relatively long period of time, that they've learned better ways of coping with interpersonal conflict and dealing with difficulties in the relationship. Avoid cycles of abuse, though, in which an abuser makes it a habit of showing signs of progress only to regress, confess, and expect you to continue putting up with their mess. Be courageous enough to cut your losses and cut your ties of intimacy with your partner when notice a pattern of abuse. It's better to have loved and lost than to lose your mind, health, or life trying love a loser.
You may be a victim of domestic violence, but don't become a fool for it. Learn and change whatever you may be doing either to choose abusive partners or to encourage and contribute to violence in your relationships. When appropriate, take responsibility not only for what's happening to you, but also for why it may be happening. And if you're as much the problem as anything or anyone else, change your self as well as your situation.
You can't have a perfect relationship because neither you nor your partner is perfect. But you can strive to create, nurture, and sustain a perfectly imperfect relationship in which your partner and you exist for one another's joy, forgive one another's faults, watch one another's back, patiently endure each other's growth process, and give what you expect from each other. Just don't allow this dream relationship to degenerate into a living nightmare. But if it does, do what you must and end the relationship before it ends you. Stop domestic violence before it stops you.
richard jones is a writer living in Detroit, Michigan USA. For more information about him, please visit www.iamrj.com