Everybody talks about how they want to have a good romantic relationship in their life. But what do we mean when we talk about a “good relationship?” From what I’ve learned personally in life and the experiences that my clients have generously shared with me, I can say that a “good relationship” promotes both members of the relationship. It’s supportive of their efforts to achieve both shared and personal goals. It offers strength and confidence to both parties. It encourages them to overcome obstacles and prevents them from giving up on their personal and shared dreams. So, tell me! Are you in a “good relationship?”
Are you dancing the Grand Tango of life together? Hand in hand, moving harmoniously towards achieving each of your personal and shared goals, protecting each other from others’ attacks? If not, let’s find out if you are in an abusive relationship.
When we talk about abuse, often people think of physical or sexual abuse. Yes, of course, such heinous behaviors exist and are dreadful acts by which abusers control those under their oppression. However, let’s not forget the ghastly effects of emotional and verbal abuse on those who have been rendered powerless.
Verbal and emotional abuse are very dangerous as they cause severe damage to the survivors’ self-esteem, self-worth, and dignity. As a result, the survivors won’t dare to walk away from the abuser and take advantage of the opportunities life offers to them, because they’ve come to believe they are not worthy of those opportunities.
If you are being emotionally abused, leaving seems to be the hardest thing to do. Remembering that YOU are worthy of happiness, will give you the courage to fight back and demand the abuser to stop the criticism and the emotional outbursts. Reminding yourself of your strength, abilities and past successes will also inspire you to claim your life and power back and take action: attempt to amend or rebuild the ruins of what’s left of your relationship, or walk away. I know it’s easier said than done. But it is possible and you can do it! Think about what it is you are teaching your abuser and your children, who are witnessing the abuse, by staying in abusive or unhappy relationships. Are you giving the message to your abuser that it is ok to treat you with disrespect or harm you? Are you teaching your kids to be submissive and endure abuse? See, staying in an abusive relationship and allowing it to continue, is bad for every single one involved in that relationship. All members of the family will give up on the dream of happiness. They will just succumb to the status quo; a learned helplessness! These relationships are also very damaging to those who love you and silently witness the dreadful traces of the abuse on your body and emotions but can’t intervene without your request or permission.
If you are convinced you are in an abusive relationship, then the first step is to remember that the way you treat yourself tells others how to treat you. Take care of yourself. Be respectful of your needs and wants, and others will follow that route; as a result, everybody ends up feeling happy. Be kind to yourself, make plans to fulfill your needs, wants, dreams and desires. Love and kindness start with you being kind and loving to yourself. If your partner fails to show you the respect and affection you expect, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship.
When trying to stand up for yourself, don’t get too focused on fighting the Darkness. Darkness wants you to exhaust yourself investing all your thoughts, actions, energy and time in the battle. Don’t forget that by focusing on fighting the Darkness, you actually reify it! Soon you will feel too tired to fight back and give in… Don’t waste all your time and energy fighting the Darkness. Stand up to it, but at the same time, be the Light! Spread hope, flourish and move towards achieving your goals and succeed! If that seems not likely in presence of your abuser, then get up and leave. Talk with your friends or family members about the abuse. There is no shame in being abused! You should be proud of yourself for surviving all that abuse! Find as many allies as you can. If no one is available, call domestic violence hotlines and get some good information as to your rights and available legal aid, and if needed, shelters for survivors of domestic violence.
It’s ok if you are scared if you worry about the future for yourself or your kids. What you can count on is that if you don’t take action, nothing is going to change! Martin Luther King says: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Be calm and do not antagonize your abuser. Make plans and act accordingly, making sure that you will be safe in the process. As Henry James eloquently says: “The right time is anytime that one is still so lucky to have.” Make sure you know that you are worthy of happiness! Then, get to work and make yourself happy, and Expect Miracles…