You might’ve read this piece yesterday. And today, I’m going to impart just a little wisdom on how to deal with a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship.
I say, “a little wisdom” because honestly, it’s not easy to write about a topic that is held so close to heart. But these two types of abuse are serious problems that will continue to affect a person for years even after the horrible relationship is over.
Many women manifest a dangerously deep well of unhappiness after putting up with an abuser who constantly isolates and condemns her. Like any normal human being, it will cause the lowest form of self-esteem, coupled with a lot of self-hate.
Whether or not there’s anything to self-hate about to begin with is almost irrelevant.
More women get sucked into the “Stockholm Syndrome” than you can ever imagine. Most women don’t talk about it because they’re not allowed to à la true “captor and hostage” nature. For example, if I were to open up and talk about my relationship problems with my friends because I can’t discuss it with him and I need emotional support, it would garner uncalled for and angry responses from the said boyfriend such as:
“What have you been talking to your friends about?”
“I don’t like it that you share our private life with people.”
“Why do you have to show/re-tell our private conversations with your friends?!”
“I HATE YOU! I WISH I NEVER MET YOU!”
Dramatic? Maybe. Drastic? Very. Reasonable? No.
Does he fault you just because he thinks there are guys going after you? Does he jump into conclusions and think the worst of you before first discussing matters with you? Does he often get agitated at you for nothing (even during the calmest of conversations)? Does he always refuse to listen to what you have to say and instead, puts you down, make you feel lousy?
If any of the above is familiar to you, then you would also know that he would then proceed to making you feel bad for being human (read: everything that you say or do is wrong) – but at the same time, he still refuses to discuss with you about what’s bothering you. There’s a very fine line between being stubborn and plain abusive.
Eventually, it will drive you up some walls if not just one. And then you will feel trapped. Or silenced. You will also begin to self-destruct. You will be washed away by a huge wave of depression. For one thing, I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore because my very existence revolved around him. Around him. What I didn’t see was that he was the bane of my existence.
So, here’s how I think women can deal with being in a mentally or abusive relationship:
You need to understand that these types of abuse exist because he is exerting power over you which, over an extended period of time, will result in you feeling unworthy of things like love, affection, and above all, respect. Also, it’s a little known but true fact that abusers are usually expressing fear, and not anger. He has issues and you probably will not be able to change him immediately although you can attempt to show him what damage he is doing to you. If he’s willing to listen, great! But if he isn’t, remember that ultimately, you cannot force change. He needs to realize it on his own and decide to end his destructive behavior.
2. Drawing the line
Be reasonable with him but more importantly, be reasonable with yourself. If it’s at all possible, discuss the matter and then decide together (ideally, of course) to find new ways to stay in a proper, healthy relationship. He could have some sort of spiritual or emotional weakness that has resulted in him exercising bossiness or control over you. Is he insecure? Does he have trust issues? Then he needs to get over himself. And by that, I mean really get over himself without attacking you along the way. You may or may not be able to help him in that aspect. He’s committed to making it work? Fantastic! But draw the line somewhere for yourself.
3. Set boundaries
Now that you’ve drawn the line, you have to start preparing yourself to accept that the mental and emotional abuse might never end. To be perfectly honest, I’m a dreamer – I believe in all things “happily ever after”. But let’s be realistic. He didn’t change even after more than half a year, he still refuses to compromise, and it’s beginning to seem like a “off and on again” vicious cycle. He has obviously crossed the line. Many times, in fact. So, remember to set a timeline, set boundaries. If he still doesn’t know how to have a healthy and respectful relationship, if he is still toxic, then terminate it.
4. Get out
Falling in love and falling out of love is hard. Saying goodbye is hard. But some relationships have to come to an end because it can no longer be saved. There is only so much mental and emotional abuse a person can take before realizing that it has become unsalvageable. “His crazy is making me crazy. I can’t forsake my mental or emotional health just because I have to deal with his psychosis”. If you’ve been unhappy in your relationship for longer than half the time that you’ve been with him then it’s time to go.
Last but not least, learn to love yourself. It might be a hard term to wrap your head around but really, it’s quite simple. Start with putting yourself first before him. Then, understand that it’s not entirely your fault. And when you do that, the self-hate will gradually dissipate.
Everybody has a worth or value, and you are no different. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.