Quick Update: The summer heat and humidity have finally arrived in Spain. Because of this, I’m going to suspend the production of Video Blogs for a while. Unless we have another unseasonably cool day, it’s probably going to be September before you “see” me again. Sorry about this. But the lights are pretty hot at the best of times, never mind in the August heat. Now on to today’s rather serious blog.
I get all kinds of emails, from people wanting a few tips on meditation to those who are in horrifically painful situations and need someone to shine a light for them (or just someone who can confirm that the light even exists.) I feel grateful and honored when my readers reach out to me and share what are at times incredibly personal details. Their willingness to trust me and the fact they resonated with my writings enough to reach out, mean more to me than I can express. Sometimes, the questions I get can be shared directly (with permission, of course), but often the mails I get are much too confidential in nature to be posted publicly. It’s often these questions, however, that can provide the most benefit to others in the same boat.
In the past few months, I’ve been corresponding with several women who are struggling to get out of abusive relationships. I don’t know if my mails have been truly helpful to them – there is no quick fix for this kind of situation, but I like to think that I’m shining a light on their path. I feel that I have a pretty thorough understanding of what these women are going through. You see, I’ve been where they are. When I was 19, I became involved with a man who was abusive. The relationship lasted six months, but the damage lasted for years. This post isn’t directly about my story, but about the overall issue of abuse. I simply wanted to let you know from where I get my perspective.
Obviously, complex situations such as these involve more than a few beliefs. I do feel, however, that the issue of abuse has the structure I’ve outlined here at its core. And I know that this one article isn’t going to turn anyone’s life around. But knowing the main underlying causes of why some people abuse and why others allow themselves to be abused, could well help someone in this situation get onto the road to recovery and freedom. It could also help those who have a victim of abuse in their lives gain a better handle on how to best assist that person when they’re ready to make a change.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to be focusing on the dynamic of a man abusing a woman. There are instances of the reverse, of course, as well as abuse in same-sex relationships. In cases where a man is being abused, his belief structure would be somewhat different. I may break this down in a future post.
Why people become abusive
Contrary to what many people may think, there truly are no evil people in the world. No one is intrinsically bad. Everyone has a reason for everything they do. Now, we may not agree with those reasons, or even understand them, but to that person, those reasons are valid. So, what could possibly possess a man to abuse his partner? Often, the abuser genuinely loves his victim. How could anyone emotionally or physically hurt someone they actually love?
People who abuse are people who are in pain. Those of you who read this blog regularly will recognize the pattern of powerlessness. I’ve written about it before. Hurting others, in whatever shape or form that abuse may take, is a way to regain a sense of control. Power over others feels better than no power at all. This is at the heart of all violence – people who have a profound sense of powerlessness will lash out in all kinds of ways in order to regain some semblance of the feeling that they have any authority in their own lives. It can, and often does, get very, very ugly. Not everyone who feels powerless turns to violence or abuse, of course, but everyone who turns to violence is coming from a powerless place.
Those who feel this helplessness and attempt to find relief through gaining power over another person, seek out those who will “participate” in this game. This participation isn’t conscious, of course (if it is, it’s not abuse, it’s sadomasochism), and often neither party is actually aware of the selection process. Men who abuse will look for and pick women who display certain characteristics and body language. Again, often this is done at a subconscious level.
Abusive men generally have incredibly low self-esteem themselves. They’ve often developed all kinds of protective mechanisms to try and combat this. Abusing their partner is only one of several ways in which they seek relief. The often have incredible career success (due to rampant ambition to try and prove themselves) or abysmal career failure (they feel so low, they see no sense in trying). They are often easily offended by even the most arbitrary things. They may be extremely sexually promiscuous (trying to feel like a stud) or incredibly vain (they may spend tons of time at the gym, or wear disproportionately expensive clothes, drive a sports car, wear a gold watch, etc.) in an attempt to appear to be “more” than they are. They will do anything to avoid appearing weak, because deep down inside, that’s exactly how they feel. None of these mechanisms ultimately work, though.
Note that I am not excusing abusive behavior in any way. I am simply explaining the underlying cause.
Why people would allow themselves to be abused
A woman with very low self-esteem, who tends to internalize blame (everything becomes her fault) makes the ideal candidate for a man who’s looking for an ego raising punching bag.
In a nutshell, women who find themselves in abusive relationships have a belief that the man’s happiness is fully and completely their responsibility. Their self esteem becomes completely tied to the man’s approval. When the man becomes cruel, he’s not behaving in an unacceptable way. It’s because she’s done something wrong. She has failed to keep him happy, and his reaction is simply a consequence.
Beliefs such as these almost always get formed in childhood. The abused woman doesn’t necessarily have to come from an abusive household, however. The belief could’ve been picked up vibrationally. So, if the mother of the woman was abused, for example, and never fully cleaned up that vibration, her children could’ve picked up that frequency even though the mother never remarried and no actual abuse ever took place in the children’s home. An extremely controlling father could help to form such a belief, even if he was not actually abusive. Any environment that would’ve caused the little girl to believe that it was her job to keep the adults, particularly the males happy, and therefore caused her to think that any signs of disapproval or unhappiness on the adults’ part was directly her fault, could easily lead to a tendency to become the victim of abuse later in life.
The woman thinks that the situation in her home is “normal”. Walking on eggshells to keep him from blowing up, taking full responsibility for the volatility of his moods, and even fully blaming herself for the beatings she receives, are all just part of “the way it is.”
The cycle of abuse
No one enters into a blatantly abusive relationship (ok, almost no one). There’s a clear pattern in how the abuse develops.
In the beginning, the abuser is kind, generous and attentive. Considering the woman’s extremely low self esteem, this attention is often the first time in her life she’s felt truly cared for by a man. She feels loved. She feels better. But her self esteem becomes inextricably tied to his treatment of her. He’s not being kind because she deserves it. He’s being kind because he’s such an amazing person, and she will often feel immensely grateful to him.
Next, the man begins to control her environment. He cuts her off from all friends and family, first in subtle, manipulative ways (“wouldn’t you rather spend time with me? Don’t you care about me?”) and sometimes in less subtle ways (“I don’t like your friend Mary” or even “I think Mary’s pretty hot.” i.e. “if you bring her around, I might fall for her and leave you”). The idea (and remember that most abusers are not fully aware of what they are doing) is to completely control her perspective. There should be no one to tell her that what she’s experiencing isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.
The abuse begins subtly, more manipulative than violent, escalating to verbal abuse and fits of rage. The verbal abuse destroys what little of her self-esteem may have been left. Displays of anger are terrifying to the woman, who sees his loss of control as her own failure. Had she done this or that better, he wouldn’t have gotten angry. In her mind, his reaction is completely her fault. Every outburst is then followed by his lavishing affection upon her. So she switches between small amounts of bliss (his affectionate periods) and ever lengthening stretches of suffering (his abuse and/or withholding of affection), and yet those tiny slivers of feeling good are worth all the pain. This is also how drug addiction works.
By the time the abuse (emotional and/or physical) is in full swing, the woman’s self esteem is so tied to the man’s approval of her, that leaving is no longer an option. Getting out would represent a permanent loss of his affections. And this often seems like the ultimate failure – an outcome that must be avoided at all costs. Women have paid with their lives to avoid the loss of an abusive partner.
The idea of leaving him is also made difficult by a variety of other reasons:
- She’s ashamed that she let it get that far. Who lets someone hit them and doesn’t just leave? Even if she’s intellectually aware that the situation she’s in isn’t acceptable, her emotional state and underlying beliefs keep her stuck where she is. She fears that others won’t understand how she could let it get that far (and honestly, they often don’t).
- She may be physically afraid to leave. Not all abusive men threaten to kill their wives or girlfriends if they leave (they often don’t have to), but women getting killed by their abusive exes isn’t exactly a rarity. If children are involved, this actually makes the situation worse. She believes that them having an abused mother who’s alive is better than having a dead mother. Other alternatives often don’t exist in her eyes. He promised to find her and she believes him fully.
- She truly loves him and believes that he loves her. She believes that if she loves him enough, she can “fix” him. It’s not his fault that he abuses her, he can’t help it. And if she can just find the right formula somehow, she can save him from his pain and then he’ll always be that nice version of himself.
What to do if you’re being abused
Get. Out. Now. You cannot save this man. I’m not saying that he can’t potentially be saved, just not right now and not by you. And that’s not because you are broken. You are not. It’s because at this point in time, you are both in a lot of pain. It’s this pain that’s making you a match for each other. As long as you both keep the vibration you’ve got right now, neither one of you can help the other. You will both stay stuck exactly where you are. You need to change your energy, and in order to do that, you have to get out. You have to get away from him. You have to get away from each other.
You cannot love him enough to make him stop hurting you. It’s never going to get better. It will only get worse. As long as he is with you, he will abuse you. If you really want to save him from himself, get away from him. You are not the cause of his pain. You are an angel who has been trying to save him. But you can’t. He has to save himself. And the only way that will EVER happen is if you leave him to go and save yourself.
I want to tell you that you deserve better than this, because you do. But I know that you can’t hear that right now. I want to tell you that there are good men out there, kind men, who would NEVER raise a hand to you or say mean, awful things to you. Men who will respect you. Men who will never give you a reason to be afraid of them. But I know that this, too, is too far of a reach. You will come to learn that in time.
Right now, get some help. Find a therapist, a friend (they will still love you, even if you abandoned them. They WILL understand), your family. Reach out to someone and let them help you. Because no matter what you may believe about yourself right now, hear me when I say this: Being abused in any way, verbally or physically, IS NOT OK. It’s not normal. You’re not supposed to be afraid of the man you love. Not even for one second. He’s not supposed to hurt you. Even if he apologizes afterwards, it’s not ok. And it’s not going to stop. Ever. You have to get out. It’s your only option. And yes, it is possible.
If you have no one, reach out to me. I’m here. I’ll read your mails and I’ll write you back. I can’t fix everything, and I can’t come to your house and get you. But I can believe in you. I can listen to you. And I can keep reminding you that you can’t save him and that it’s not your job to, but that it is your job to save yourself. Because even though I know it’s very hard for you to hear this right now: you do deserve so much better. You are worth so much more. You are allowed to be happy. Truly happy. You are allowed to feel loved and protected. You are allowed to feel safe. And take it from me, you CAN get there.
Right off the bat in this article, you perpetuate a very dangerous myth: that there are no evil people in this world. This false belief often stems from a romanticized view of human nature, an extreme naivete, or a very sheltered and limited life experience, that lacks awareness of just how pathological people can be. This isnt to say that screwed up people cant have a good quality here or there, and yes, some abusers are created out of childhood abuse and pain.
Victims caught up with abusers already fail to understand that most abusers are not “confused” about the right way to treat people, and they don’t “just need to be patiently taught by a sympathetic mate.” This thinking will trap you in a cycle of being purposely manipulated and used by the abuser. It keeps victims in the relationship, and it leads them to minimize the the danger they are in.
Abusers dont lack clarity. They hurt you on purpose in order to break you down and trap you. It is not a mistake or oversite. Abusers are completely aware of what they are doing, and they DO NOT care about you.
Hey there PurpleTantrum,
Our views may differ a bit, but I wanted to clarify one thing: I never meant to imply that an abusive partner just needs to be taught by a patient mate to be loving. In fact, I make it very clear in the article that if someone finds themselves in an abusive relationship, they should get out. But I do not believe that people are born abusive (except those on the sociopathic spectrum, which is a different thing altogether). I’ve been led, through my life, which used to include abusive individuals, that I can have compassion for vicitimizers, and that nothing happens in a vacuum. This does not mean that I allow people to abuse me or would ever advise someone to stay in an abusive relationship. Quite the contrary. In my experience, most people who hurt others (in minor or major ways), do not do so with full consciousness. Again, not talking about psychopaths here. There is usually a hefty dose of denial. But, and this is a BIG BUT, this is never meant to be used to “let someone off the hook”, and not hold them responsible for their abusive behavior.
It’s ok if my perspective doesn’t resonate with you. I can totally respect that. We have have differing views on some details, but I believe that if you and I were to advise the same person, we’d probably tell them to do the same thing: get the eff out. <3
thank you for this blog! I was doing researh on post abusive relationships because two years later I still an not resolve within myself what part in the abuse was I responsible for. I do not see myself as a person with low self esteem n’or as co-dependent, but i was abused as a child by an alcoholic single parent. I want to know what to do after, how to resolve this and reading your post maybe I just have to admit that this just is not my fault, this is hard. but I read this and the dynamics you describe make me realise that quite possibly it was more that the fit was bad and it was not me, just us. Thank you for your insights!
Who is this Shybutterfly? Whoever you are, my heartfelt love to the poor abused little girl, who has suffered her mother’s abuse.
Living with an abusive mother is one of the most painful things a woman can endure. Most of the time, the men in her life (her father, brother, boyfriend) are very sweet to her and depends on them for her very survival. I think this abused daughter ends up completely seeking refuge in the men in her life and has deep issues in having positive relationships with other women, because she is scared of women’s ill-treatment, having been hurt deeply by her mother. It is sad and painful that rarely ever a woman abusing other woman (mother abusing daughter) is not written about.
I am not really sure whether this is common; however the woman abused by her mother usually has beautiful, amazing relationships with men and is mostly adored by men. They rarely seem to have issues with men, as almost all men around them turn out to be soft and sweet. I met two other gorgeous women, who have abusive mothers, but they have fathers and boyfriends and brothers loving them like crazy. They end up as damsels-in-distress, always waiting for their father/boyfriend/brothers to save them. They are mostly daddy’s-little-girl-type girls. I don’t know whether this is a common pattern, but these women almost always seem to have sad relationships with women. Almost frequently, she gets hurt and betrayed and cheated by women.
the article was thought provoking and outlined the scenario os an abusive relationship in details.
As Gauri has requested, can you throw light on the Mother – Daughter relationship when the daughter is at the receiving end and the torture continues for years in the name of love. The mother has an history of dominance by her own mother and other people who abused her and misused her, with a non supportive husband.
After 3 decades of enduring the abusive behavior by perfectionist mother ( now she is in mid seventies with bad health ) what is the next best course when the sons are away from her and daughter is at the receiving end,
Initially it was not noticed but getting worser as time passes. Daughter is affected in many ways, having been a victim of emotional blackmail, with low self esteem, still afraid to take action due to her mother’s loneliness and advanced age and health. Please advice.
My response is about women abusing women in non-sexual relationships (like mother, daughter, servant, employee, friend etc etc). I have received extreme emotional abuse from women all my life. They use the same tactics you have given here: it goes exactly the same way as described by you. For getting some love and approval from them when they are in a good mood or not getting hurt by them, the abused woman (like me) tolerates abuse from abusive women. Then to walking on egg shells to keep these abusive women from blowing up and at last believing it is ‘normal’. Every outburst is followed by lavishing affection on the abused, sort of ‘fooling’ the abused into believing or manipulating the abused from leaving the abuser.
could you please write why women abuse other women in non-sexual relationships? the damage is severe to last for years. Like getting cheated for huge sums of money, loosing reputation, ruining self-esteem etc are some of the consequences of abuse by women. What are the characteristics and body language abused women (in platonic relationships) exhibit that make them attractive to abusive women who are looking for an ego-raising punching bag?
That would make for an enlightening read :0
i abused my ex girlfriend who i love very much. iv grown up in an abusive house old , and even tho growing up it was wrong to me and never believed i would do it, i think subconsciously i thought it was ok when i was doing it. i agree with all the characteristics about an abuser written in this article. iv been seeing a therapist and working through my problems. my girlfriend is done with me, i truly love her and am doing everything i can, that is civilized, to get her back. i believe shes lost her trust and she never be back, but iv devoted my life to making her see im better in whichever little ways she allows. once shes married i would obviously have to move on. i understand what ive done and how i am viewed. i understand it is an issue i will have to control throughout my life.
Thank you so much for this… I’m in a deep hole of and emotionally abusive relationship right now. I’ve only been with him for a little over a year but the abuse has gone on ever since I met him pretty much. It’s true they make us feel special and we are great full for that and we feel as tho we owe our everything to him because of how he treated us in the beginning. I try to let go but it’s so hard. He reels me back in when I say I’m gonna leave. I try so hard and I know I need to do it. You’re right I do deserve better info deserve to be happy. Even though its going to take me a while to really get out, you’re article is inspiring and it’s comforting. At this point I have no one to talk to because everyone is sick of my whining and doesn’t understand how it is. No one understands until they have lived this. It really is like I’m addicted to a drug….
You can do it. When you’re ready, you’ll find a way. People don’t realize that staying is not a sign of weakness – it takes tremendous strength to put up with that much suffering. It’s basically when you run out of strength that you leave. You can leave before, though. You don’t have to wait until you’re completely depleted.
Do yourself a huge favor and listen to the last coaching call I published. You can find it here: http://members.deliberatereceiving.com/?p=1151
It’s $10, but I think it will help you a lot. It’s all about abusive relationships and goes much deeper than this post did.
Good luck and loads of light and hugs,
Dear dear Melody,I think I attracted this post while I’ve been thinking about why my relationships with men don’t work…And I’m speechless..The universe sent me my answer through you,huge thanks to both of you 🙂 All of my relationships were abusive now I know that…They were emotionally abusive and I was addicted to them-that particular type of men.I feel like I discovered America:) Mostly my part was the weak woman and their part was the strong-macho or the life saver man…At least I now feel the discord and ended an abusive relationship a couple of days ago asap.The last thing I was looking for the WHY…Thank you Melody,I feel enlightened…
You’re so very welcome. It’s entirely my honor to be part of your process. 🙂
I was wondering if you could elaborate on
“2.) If one person is doing all the yelling and screaming and the other one is walking around on eggshells trying to prevent those outbursts
4.) If one party is manipulating the other to the degree that they’ve cut them off from all or most outside sources which could help them get some perspective. Basically, if one party completely controls the environment of the other.
5.) If one party feels completely powerless and the other exploits this.”
In a particular context?
Number 2- what insults are normal anger or brutal honesty VS real verbal abuse?
i.e. You are calm, respectful, don’t swear BUT your actions are cause for annoyance/
Also if what he says is true and you really are doing those things, BUT he is saying the brutal truth mixed with swearing and you feel that he is correct, he has every right to be angry, but don’t like the manner of anger.
e.g. Yelling about things I can’t change or don’t do on purpose. Swearing despite request swearing left out of conversation.
-hairline triggers– In the case where the cause unlike above is not justified and the slightest miswording sets them into rage.
Trying to re-phrase things just digs grave further.
4) This is also confusing. What if they actively encourage you to have a social life because one of the things that anger them is you are a homebody and always in the house/cramming them. “get a life!!” etc (you are aiming for one!)
But then you start off building friends with mutual friends because your personal friends moved away.
When you do this he doesn’t tell you “you can’t come” but makes life hell if you do, thus making you feel isolated. The friends want you there, but he slowly starts making this impossible by being in a bad mood and they feel uncomfortable so you stop seeing everyone to stop that situation.
You have anxiety etc about being alone so this is awful. You also feel he is right because you COULD make other friends separate fro him, but other factors make this nigh impossible.
He feels suffocated, you feel left out. Both think they are right/just.
5) They keep shoving their “breadwinner” status in your face during fights. They know you need them right now and feel guilty about being a burden.
But they just keep throwing it in your face. They are mostly patient and care for you. Just when they get frustrated by lazy behavior, not bringing in money etc they explode in ugly, hurtful fashion.
You pull away/give them space but later they feel guilty and try to blame the anger for nasty words/threats of leaving.
You don’t know what to believe.
They never hit you. Also these are the worst of the worst. Not like this 24/7, but just wondering if once in a blue m oon does anything cross the line and how I can stop it.
Also they were never like this when you had a job and your friends in town– so he has good reason/ cabin fever.
Well, ultimately, you have to be the judge of how you are feeling in a relationship.
However, you want to be careful about making excuses for how someone treats you, in terms of putting your own feelings aside because they had a good reason. There are ways to express anger that don’t disintegrate the opponent. And that’s just it – if you start feeling like an opponent or even a punching bag, something is wrong.
A relationship doesn’t have to necessarily be abusive. It can just be totally dysfunctional. That happens when both people are making the other responsible for how they feel and it really, really isn’t working. It’s like you both want the other to fix what’s wrong with you. He’s making you responsible for feeling trapped, and you’re making him responsible for you feeling loved. Neither will work, and that can lead to outbursts, that may not be abusive, but they don’t feel good.
All you can ever really do is focus on YOU feel. You can’t demand that others help you feel that way. But you can get there yourself, in time. And when you do, those around you will actually act in the way you wanted them to all along. The key is, you have to line up with that feeling before they can act in a way that matches it. Failure to recongnize that is at the heart of most relationship conflicts.
This actually got me some good results, after going through my fears then thinking what I DO want, I got some things reversing today! Amazing! (nothing dramatic, but still a good change)
*I’ve altered this to be less personal, more general and apply to more than one man*
A wants lots of space but gives the woman no reason to give him some. e.g. He goes out and does selfish things or involving her friends and not including her.
Anyone wanting these things from anybody (partner, friend, family) need to offer positive return to the person they demand this or that from:
e.g. They go out without you with mutual friends and come home refreshed/polite; instead of coming home and yelling.
That is an important tip. Make the demand worthwhile. While transitioning from a pushy (but not abusive, someone who is coming close though) man into a man that suggests or nicely requests– when you make your “demands”, give your partner something in return.
Demonstrate to them that when they listen to you by choice (not because you beat them into listening or yelled) that there is a positive outcome. If you are rude regardless of what they do, they will feel dispirited.
If you are naturally a leader or bossy sort of person, this will work well for you. You get to retain your natural leadership behavior without being an ass. It’s possible to be strong, wear the pants without putting her down and being abusive.
Make things fun for her and worthwhile.
Compliment and appreciate the nice things she does for you. She will start to do them from love not fear.
It might have been worth the sacrifice of being the one to miss out/giving the man space IF he was polite upon returning.
Maybe even say something like:
“I really appreciate you staying home so I could have some space. These are your friends too and I know you also look forward to having fun on the weekend.
Thanks for giving me that break (hugs them) everyone is looking forward to you coming next time.
If I still need some space, I’LL be the one to stay home and clean. You go out and have fun. You’ve only missed out the last six weekends in a row so I have some making up to do!”
Now you are on the right track to a more balanced relationship. (if you mean it and not just empty words) Take turns in doing things.
You can still be bossy, but in a fun way and not in a punishing manner. If you are into control etc
why not control in a better way like positive actions and focus on what you like about her?
Give no attention/reaction to what you don’t like. You still get to “control” someone when you praise and compliment someone. They’ll want more of the good stuff.
Just skip out the punishment parts. You don’t need it. You catch more flies with honey!
Women don’t see the point in following your “rules” or missing out on things if you don’t give anything to them in return. (make it fair)
If you are going to yell, swear and stomp off to bed… Why should she listen to you? There is no reward in it.
Important: For love not fear, the reward is not simply *I didn’t beat her/I didn’t yell!*
It’s a proper reward, that is a thoughtful gesture towards her out of love and romance.
That’s (negative reinforcement, such as yelling/being distant) also why your wife/girlfriend might go back to being messy most of the time. If she makes some effort to be considerate, and when things were going really well I bet that she did more than her share of the cleaning.
At this time it wouldn’t bother her as deep down what people want most is appreciation and respect.
But now…. he wonders why she reverts back into some slobbish habits.. it’s because he doesn’t make her feel good for doing things.
So she stopped trying.
If you yell at her regardless of considerate, helpful behavior and making an effort for you..she will think “why do I bother?”
The same with her clothes. If he doesn’t take her out anywhere etc why should she look “sexy” inside. Because he doesn’t care anyway. She will stop bothering because of that.
That’s another tip for the male readers: if you want a “hot” woman, compliment and support the one you have. The happiness and self-esteem will inspire her to dress up if you appreciate what you already have and be sincere. Also taking her out somewhere nice or even go buy her those clothes and help her try them on.
Making her feel good will make a world of difference. Give her a reason. Yelling and degrading will only make her withdraw, stop trying, or try so hard out of stress.
If he views her as lazy, you could have caused this by not appreciating her.
As a woman:
When the one I love shows me love..boy are they in for a treat! I really go out of my way!
She feels “it is pointless”/ “why bother” if the result is getting yelled at regardless.
This is the thing I think men forget…
If they act like an ass, she will lose inspiration to do nice things for you. (unless by force, but that is where it gets abusive)
After writing this, the universe seemed to hear, as I did get an apology. 🙂 Writing my fears, then what I wanted worked, wow, and I thought this was just a vent/whinge/ask Melody session! 🙂
I’ve backspaced my original comment and put tips for men instead.
Oh, and I know this will sound a little sick/wrong as we are not in school and women are not students, children, puppies etc
Until someone learns how to be a real, confident, kind man and can give up his powerless need for authority, this advice is an improvement/step up the ladder:
On your way to feeling that you no longer have to control your spouse, replace negative reinforcement with positive reinforcement.
(I know, I know, there should be ZERO reinforcement in a normal relationship, as she’s not the mans’ daughter… but while he’s improving himself this is a good start.)
Replace yelling/swearing/insults her “mistakes” or things you don’t like with praise/compliment the things you do like instead.
Have a neutral reaction to things you don’t like, be calm or just walk away–the key is not giving it energy.
Put all your focus on the positive reinforcement style of your control. Your ego will still get a boost from seeing her react well to this. AND you are on your way to being a better person.
If you got some kind of sexual kick from the yelling/nastiness, why not take up an active sport to get rid of that energy, like kickboxing etc and kick a real punching bag or wrestle another man in sparring.
Alternatively if she enjoys sex, WITH CONSENT! and truly wants it, take the energy out in the bedroom, with something kinky!
This way you can do these things in a much nicer way and become happier. When you are happy, you won’t need control at all.
🙂 What do you think Melody?
I think this is great advice. Now, if only you could get every man to read it, lol.
While you were defining how you wanted your man to treat you, you were actually focused more on what you wanted and less on what you don’t want and that affected enough of a shift so that you could see a result. You don’t need to ask him to change so that you can feel better. And you don’t need him to make you feel sexy. You can feel sexy because it feels good. But when you do, he’ll react in a way that amplifies your sexy feelings further.
There’s a lot of power in defining what you want versus what you don’t want. 🙂
I was wondering how you feel about a fake facebook profile.
I was thinking of making it and only revealing it to you and the deliberate recieving/LOA nice people out there.
It would be my life if things were well, maybe the opposite of my life and hopefully give energy to this creation. It would mostly be lies at the start but hopefully would morph into reality?
Bit embarassed but was curious about the thought.
I think that it could be a really positive place for you to go. As long as you don’t start to set up fake dates with people, I think you’d be fine. And creating a safe space where you could let your positive side come out and play, where no one puts negative or limiting expectations on you, that could be very, very good for you.
Don’t be embarrassed. I think it’s a good idea. I realized a few months ago, that my personal FB page is filled with positive messages. I’m only really connected to people who share positive and motivational things. You could certainly reverse engineer that and create the positive space and then let it shape your vibration. 🙂
Would I need to use my real photo and name for it to work? I don’t want to be attracting all this positive energy to a fake person that doesn’t exist, I want it to get sent to me. 🙂
Thanks for that.
Nope. Use something that you feel describes that part of you. The Universe will know. 🙂
this is an awesome post..! I had also been in an abusive relationship and now i understand the dynamics of it..! i wanted to share it on facebook. but when i used the link given here i wasnt able to do the same. Can you tell me a way out.
i really admire you and am your big fan. thanks.
If you can’t use the share button (sometimes FB is fussy), just copy the link from this page and paste it into your Facebook status. That will link to the page. Thanks so much for sharing!
Oh Woa Melody.Thanks you so much .
You are awesome .You have been like an angel ,that have come to clarify my thinking and my obtion with these situation.When I was so confused .Now I know what exacly what to do ,and I cant see more clear the step to take.I realy apreciate you help .
I have been thinking for awile the obtion 2 .But I was with a lot of indecicion ,but now ,more clear than water ,you put it in from of me ..
Muchisimas gracias Melody .De corazon agradesco tu ayuda .
Tambien te mando un abrazo grande.
Muy contenta de encontrarte.
Con amor de Rosie:*
De nada Rosie! 🙂
Thank you Melody for these articulo.
But I have a question .
Im in the moment of big confucion about my relantionship .Where have been a lot of disrespetful words said.But he always said that I take to seriously his words and he dont try to critize me ,that is all in my head .But I feel that he never give me credit for anything and plus when he get mad ,he always try to find someting that I do good and put it like ,he does it better .And I feel like Im loosing my drive for do things .Can be his critical that I loosing my confident ,because the way his treating me ?I dont know ,Im confuse .?Do you see that like a controling abuse behave ?I feel mad with me because I always have been a women of big bold decicion maker and now I feel powerless and I dont undestand what is happening to me ,why I cant get out of these .
Can you see these like an abuse relantionship tambien.?
You are not feeling powerless because of the way your man is treating you. You are feeling powerless because of the way you are looking at yourself as a result of how he is treating you. Basically, when he says that you are weak, you believe him. And it’s because you believe him that you feel bad.
You have two choices if you want to feel better:
1.) Stop believing him and find ways to honor yourself. His opinion of you is irrelevant, even if you love him.
2.) Leave and get away from the criticism, so that you’ll no longer have all of this negative feedback. Then, find ways to feel better and honor yourself.
This man is trying desperately to make himself feel better at your expense. If he can bring you down, he can feel superior. This is because most of the time, he feels inferior. It is not your responsibility to make him feel better by allowing yourself to be beaten down. And it doesn’t work anyway. You cannot be in enough pain to make this man feel truly good about himself. So stop trying.
My advice would be for you to get away from this man, at least for a little while and get your strength back. Start feeling good again. Feel your own power. Then, from that point of view, you can see the parts of him that you may still match up with and go back and have a very different relationship, or determine that you really don’t want to be with him. it will be easier for you to see clearly once you feel better.
I hope that was helpful.
Abrazos grandes! 🙂
Hi Melody, thanks for recommending this article!
(Actually I had read and bookmarked it already, because it really stroke me and I think it´s brilliant!)
What was striking and new to me, is the idea that we pick up abusiveness as an energy pattern whether it´s really occuring to us or is just still present in the vibration of those around us (o.k. this is what LOA is all about but anyway..; it clears up a lot for me in my family history).
Unfortunately these connections are generally unknown to people, so they never hit on the idea of cleaning up their vibration (believing that there own misalignment could do no harm to others, because the “evidence” is invisible – the opposite is true!!).
And true: it takes a victim to make a victim. The psychology complements each other, though there might be complete different motives of the two parties involved to be in this relationship.
And yes, you might be as tough, educated and intelligent as you like; when love is involved, it´s not just about setting your bounds, but dealing with the pain and self abuse of your partner as well as your own; getting out is just the easy part of it.
Thanks a lot for exploring this subject, I´ll have to take some more time with it.
I’m so glad that this post was helpful to you. Relationships are incredibly complex and I don’t believe that there’s a subject out there that causes more suffering than love gone bad. But if we understand the underlying paradigms, we can put a stop to destructive patterns as well as take back our power. No one can hurt us unless we let them.
You have exactly defined the anatomy of an abusive relationship here Melody. Honestly, I grew up in such an environment and in the past I have not understood why it should be that way between two people, especially couples. But from what I’ve seen, the most powerful reason why a women cling to such relationship is for her children–if she have. Better to suffer than to let the children suffer via broken family.
apologies for the late reply! This one must have gotten away from me…
It’s true that women often mistakenly believe that they’re doing their children a favor by staying. Abused women no longer have the perspective that outsiders do, which it’s why it’s so hard for many people to relate to the reasons why they choose to stay…
Thank you for adding your valuable insight.
Extremely interesting article, Melody. I was abused by my first husband and yet I came from a family that was not abusive at all. However, both my brother and I were afraid to let our father get angry. Why this was, we still can’t figure out. What you have said here does give a reason for why I put up with my first husband as long as I did.
As I said, things can be picked up vibrationally, as well, and beliefs can be passed down through family members. I picked up several beliefs from my family, even though I never actually experienced any traumatic events that would’ve justified them. Congratulations on getting out and on changing your vibration. Another success story! 🙂
Great post, Melody. The best part about this is you keep mentioning that they deserve better. That’s the essence of it all. At the core, everyone needs to know that. Both men and women, because men have been victims of abusive relationships as well. Everyone deserves better. As long as they know that, there’s still hope. I have a question though…
How do you define an abusive relationship? It’s common knowledge that couples fight. They fight on so many levels. A girl gets jealous of a female colleague on her bf’s Facebook list, and a fight ensues. A girl doesn’t get along with the guy’s family, or vice versa, and a fight ensues. Disagreements over moving to a bigger city, or over each other’s friends, or over each other’s hobbies. Maybe he has an expensive hobby but they can’t afford it, she gets mad (for a good reason), but it creates friction. In a marriage, these things can go on for years, and even decades. But these are hardly considered to be forms of abuse. Sometimes couples scream at each other, maybe even break things in anger.
“Opposites attract” is the age old saying. And while romance and sex will blind a couple initially, all those opposite traits can and probably will start to show over time, especially once the “romance high” has worn off. People can say nasty things out of anger and still apologize later. My friend has been with his mate for 10years now, and one time she called him a “d*ckless coward” (haha!) out of anger. That cracked his self-esteem for a bit. And while they do get depressed and have had their ultimate lows because of their lack of understanding, they’re also one of the best couples I’ve seen. They have chemistry and love each other, in a very real sense. So where’s the line exactly? Which part of the relationship should they focus on and decide if they should continue, or should they move on to “deserve better”?
I agree that once a punch is thrown it’s time to reevaluate things, but when it comes to something as vague as dialogue / emotional hurt /…how do we define ‘abuse’, especially when we’re so capable of spewing venom when we’re blinded by anger?
What an excellent question. I suppose no one can ever really judge the relationship of others with complete accuracy. But I’d venture that if any of the following elements are present, the relationship is abusive:
1.) If either party is afraid of the other, even just sometimes.
2.) If one person is doing all the yelling and screaming and the other one is walking around on eggshells trying to prevent those outbursts
3.) If there’s physical violence (unless it’s consensual. Yep, that exists).
4.) If one party is manipulating the other to the degree that they’ve cut them off from all or most outside sources which could help them get some perspective. Basically, if one party completely controls the environment of the other.
5.) If one party feels completely powerless and the other exploits this.
I’m sure this list is not complete, but it’s a start. Again, it’s hard to judge other people’s relationships. People can get into volatile fights and then have amazing makeup sex. Does the fight mean it’s an abusive relationship? Not at all. It might be a bit dysfunctional, but some people really like the drama and it just works for them.
For me, the cutoff for when to leave to try and get better is if you feel that you can’t breathe around the other person. If you feel like you’re in prison. If you’re not allowed to have feelings, or to express them. If there are subjects that your partner won’t ALLOW you to talk about. As long as there’s dialogue and freedom to be who you are and to change, growth is possible in the relationship. But I suppose that’s a whole other blog post… 🙂
Thanks for answering, Melody. 🙂
I guess I’ll just wait for that ‘other blogpost’, because I was just about to ask you “What if both parties are doing the things mentioned above to each other”… is it still considered abusive if nobody’s the real victim because both have power. Also wanted to ask if there’s room for change in a scenario with the checklist above. But seriously, no need to answer if it’s reserved for another post. This has been a whopper article already. Take care. 🙂
I suppose if both people were abusing each other, I would classify that as a hugely dysfunctional relationship. I’ll do a blog post on how to know when to break up soon (it’s on the list). Go ahead and ask your question about the list (here, or just mail me) and I’ll make sure to incorporate the answer into that post. 🙂
It’s not a very deep question. My question is…
Even with all the items on the checklist above, is there room for change in a dysfunctional relationship? Some people would rather fix things than break-up. Some people genuinely love each other despite going bat-sh*t crazy on each other each and every day. It’s weird, but it’s not unheard of. In fact it’s fairly common. And I think it starts to kick-in once a couple has been together for several years (married or otherwise), meaning it was not always a bad relationship, it just slowly got there. Staying relevant to the blog, I think what I really want to know is can a person be strong enough to change his / her vibrations while still IN the relationship in order to manifest a very real change? And if it’s possible, how is it done?
Would love to get the answer in your planned post. Thanks, Melody! Take care.
How wonderful that you are addressing this topic. As may have been mentioned, there are “safe houses” in every large city that will protect women that need it in a crisis situation. You are right that both partners are in pain and this behavior has been role modeled in the family. Women sometimes feel they don’t have options, it’s great for you to talk about this difficult subject.
Thank you so much for your kind words. This issue is a lot more pervasive than people think and it’s often swept under the rug. Or, people fail to understand that the victim can’t “just leave” anytime she wants to. Hopefully this post and the awesome comments you’ve all left will help to open a few people’s eyes.
Wow Melody, I’ve never been in an abuse relationship before, but reading your article really illuminated this topic for me. When you discuss it from both the abuser and the abused perspective I really feel like you provide the “full picture” for why these kinds of abusive relationships persist.
This, in particular, really resonated with me:
>Everyone who turns to violence is coming from a powerless place.
Couldn’t agree more. Violence is always a sign of desperation (not just in intimate relationships, but all throughout society). Only a person who has lost power over their mind and emotions resorts to violence (unless of course it’s an act of self-defense).
Very, very informative and enlightening article. I’m going to share this on Twitter.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Huge hugs for you,
Well done and clearly stated. This article is a public service and a wealth of information
Thank you Patricia!
What a sensitive topic this is. I agree with you, a woman who is being abused has and should get out of this abusive relationships, otherwise, it will get worse. I once knew a girl who used to get abused often, but didn’t do anything about it because as she says, “she loves him” and like his manly manners. Many women confuse confident men with abusive men. They are not the same, but many stay in abusive relationships as they like the “confidence” this man possess. Great post Melody, thanks for sharing my friend 🙂
I believe that this “manly man” idea comes from wanting to feel taken care of. And when abusive men show kindness, that’s exactly how the woman feels. If she associates him as the only source that makes that feeling possible, she’ll do anything to keep it. The biggest tragedy in abuse cases is that the abused can’t see that they have any other options.
Thanks for your wonderful comment.
Expertly said, Melody. It is such a gift to be willing to open up this conversation for everyones understanding. Indeed, the root cause must be cleaned up or people will continually attract the same situation of abuse over and over again. It is simply not enough to get up and leave. Only when we unlearn the nonsense of inadequacy and low self-esteem can we come face to face with the truth of our marvelousness.
Thanks Rob! I like that: “the truth of our marvelousness” 🙂
Yes i accept all your views, even i used show all my anger to my wife, whenever i got fear of my carrier or any negative thoughts occupy me i used to be silent with bad face,during the while when i back home i see all the negatives with my wife and home.Somehow i start verbal abusing her, by saying you had not done this that, you are lazy like a buffalo or wild buffalo.You dont have common sense,you are not matured and so on.Also some times i expect she has to read my mind and do appropriate things.And after all this i apologize her.What should i do in this situation?
Everyman in the world is good and for every problem or challenges there is a solution, i believe that, do really people cant help each other to fix it?
You have to fix the underlying cause, which is the way you feel. Trying to simply change your behavior will not work. The way you feel about yourself and your life, the fears you are experiencing, have caused you to try and find relief in ways that aren’t constructive. Essentially, you’re trying to pass your pain off to your wife. Not only is that not fair, but it doesn’t work. Now, you feel your original pain, plus guilt over hurting someone you love. And perhaps resentment that she wasn’t able to make you feel better. But that’s not her job. It’s yours.
Look at your life, your job, all of it and determine which areas feel bad. What are you thinking about these situations that causes those bad feelings? How are you looking at yourself in these situations? This is where the work is: you have to find new perspectives on these situations that feel better. Do this and little by little, your stress will disappear.
Recognize that you have been giving your wife the responsibility to make you feel better, even though that’s clearly not working. No other person can MAKE you feel better. It’s simply not possible. You may feel better in the presence of some people because they have a higher vibration, but unless you actually change your beliefs, that’s only a temporary band aid. You’re assigning a job to your wife that she can’t possibly do and then blaming her for her “failure”. Once you recognize this, it will be easier for you to change your behavior towards her.
Often, men who exhibit this kind of behavior are terrified of being seen as weak. They do not share their fears and worries with their partner. Talk to your wife about your feelings, about what’s really going on with you. Don’t expect her to solve anything, but be honest with her, and be authentic, instead of lashing out. This will be terrifying at first, but it can be incredibly empowering. One of your biggest fears is most likely that if she sees you as you really are, fears and all, she may reject you. So you push her away before she can do that. But if you can have the courage to share yourself with her and experience the acceptance of someone who loves you no matter what, you’ll realize how unnecessary all those protective mechanisms were.
You definitely have the power and the ability to change, to feel better and to have a very different relationship with your wife. But it all starts with you and how you feel about yourself.
I believe that you did an awesome job in explaining this sensitive situation. I know that you know the law of attraction and how these situations occur but it would be awesome if it could end after the abusive relationship was over.
Unfortunately as you said if the vibrations are not cleaned up then the “abused” will end up in another abusive relationship.
In many situations, it’s actually more useful to stay and work out vibration out. Otherwise, we’re doomed to repeat the same scenario again. But when abuse is present, we have to get out first. And then the long journey of healing begins. I’d never recommend that a woman who was abused get into another relationship within the first year. It’s a lot like getting over an addiction. It takes time to find those higher vibrations and stabilize there.
Abusive relationships are very difficult to leave. Group counseling is very for healing the cycle and destructive patterns. Abusive men come from all socioeconomical groups. I’ve had the wives of mayors and CEOs in group along with former convicts. I can only encourage women to get help and continue getting help until you’re strong enough to leave.
All we can do is shine the light. I remember, I didn’t see it until I was ready. It had to dawn on me. My friends helped, but for a while it was like they were speaking a foreign language. I think what helped me most was seeing a normal relationship in action – my roommate and her boyfriend had a dynamic I’d never witnessed before. They respected each other, he was kind to her, she stood up to him when he breached her limits in any way. She wasn’t terrified that he’d leave her. That was really the beginning of my realization that perhaps what I was living was not the way it had to be…
Thanks for adding your insights to this important topic.
I think you nailed it from the codependent woman point of view.
I generally find that if a person is in an abusive situation, there is some sense in which they are abusive to themselves. That doesn’t mean they give themselves black eyes–but it does mean that they have the mental equivalent.
Another interesting way into abuse is to have “high ideals”. This way of thinking says “Yeah, he hit me, but he didn’t REALLY mean it because he’s a good person and I can see it in there!” We might call that the Mother Theresa complex where you least want it.
Hi Joe Bill,
People who have very low self-esteem are never nice to themselves. They don’t feel they deserve it. That’s pretty much the problem…
Women who are abused are generally very sensitive. They tend to see the good in everyone, hence the overwhelming sense of responsibility to save him. Thanks for adding your insights.
This is a very deep and intense blog. Thank you for going there. There are so many women who need this. I think this is an eye opener for everyone to see the dynamics of an abusive relationship. Even those to whom this does not apply can benefit from reflecting on their relationships and using this as a check up to see that it is healthy to the core.
There are certainly a lot of dysfunctional ideas about relationships floating around out there. It doesn’t have to be abusive to cause suffering. I think you’re right. Understanding the dynamic of an abusive relationship can help those in relatively healthy partnerships evaluate their own paradigms.
Thank you so much for your feedback (as always).
I love this. Thank you for writing it! This was me two years ago: totally a deer in the headlights with no clue what I was doing wrong (and of course I though it was me doing something wrong). I am now out of the relationship (a 17 year marriage). Here are a few things I learned:
* Not all therapists will help. I was actually verbally abused in front of three different therapists, who all were wooed by my husband’s victim act (one said that I was being too hard on him for doing drugs in the house!). Find a feminist theory therapist and go alone, and keep going.
* Find a way to leverage your own money. I cashed out a part of my retirement fund to rent an apartment and get me and my kids out, all without him knowing. My husband was furious and still is. But we were safe and it sent a strong message to my girls: you don’t have to accept that treatment because you can make your own options. It was worth every penny and more. Safe houses and other programs can help you. Look for them! You are totally worth it.
* Read everything you can to understand it. Start here: http://www.amazon.com/Why-Does-He-That-Controlling/dp/0425191656 It was the best book I read and I still refer to it.
* Build a web of support: victim’s advocates, therapists, family members, lawyers and friends…you will have to force yourself to ask for help, but do it. Get a whole army.
* Baby step it. This big of a change was so overwhelming for me. All I could do was do one little thing at a time (open a bank account, find a lawyer). But it got me to where I am today. Free.
So many abused women go back to their abusers. I went back once and stayed for another 13 years. That doesn’t have to be you. They don’t change. Not ever. Because asking for help would mean giving up their control. You can change though, and it feels good to own your life.
And thank you, Melody, for writing this article to remind me how far I have come. 🙂 I needed that!
Thank you so much for your valuable comment! You’ve added some amazing and helpful information here.
You’re absolutely right. Not all therapists are good, and even of those who are, not all of them understand the dynamic of abuse. There’s a huge stigma that women who are abused are simply weak. They are often met with contempt, even from those that are supposed to help. This makes it all the harder to get out.
Congratulations on your achievement! I cannot even imagine how hard it must have been for you to leave. I was lucky to get out when I did. It still took me years to undo the damage. I’m just in awe of what you’ve accomplished. And your children are blessed to have such an incredibly strong and courageous mother!
Huge hugs to you and your family,