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Here are some common side effects of being in an abusive relationship, whether the abusive individual has a personality disorder or not:
1) Censoring your thoughts and feelings. You edit it yourself because you’re afraid of his/her reactions. Swallowing the lump in your throat hiding your hurt and anger is easier than dealing with another fight or hurt feelings. In fact, you may have stuffed your own emotions for so long that you no longer know what you think or feel.
2) Everything is your fault. You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship and in general, even if it has no basis in reality.
3) Constant criticism. He/She criticizes nearly everything you do and nothing is ever good enough. No matter how hard you try, there’s no pleasing him/her or, if you do, it’s few and far between.
4) Control freak. He/She engages in manipulative behaviors, even lying, in an effort to control you.
5) Dr Jekyll and Mr/Ms Hyde. One moment they’re kind and loving; the next they’re flipping out on you. They become so vicious; you wonder if they are the same person. The first time it happens, you write it off. Now, it’s a regular pattern of behavior that induces feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness and/or despair within you.
6) Your feelings don’t count. Your needs and feelings, if you’re brave enough to express them; they’re ignored, ridiculed, minimized and/or dismissed. You’re told that you’re too demanding, that there’s something wrong with you and that you need to be in therapy. You’re denied the right to your feelings.
7) Questioning your own sanity. You’ve begun to wonder if you’re crazy because she/he puts down your point of view and/or denies things she/he says or does. If you actually confide these things to a friend or family member, they don’t believe you because she/he usually behaves themselves around other people.
8) Say what? “But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that.” Sure you did. Well, you did in their highly distorted version of reality. Their accusations run the gamut from infidelity to cruelty to being un-supportive (even when you’re the one paying all the bills) to repressing them and holding them back. It’s usually baseless, which leaves you feeling defensive and misunderstood.
9) Isolating you from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of the erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for their inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.
10) Walking on landmines. One misstep and you could set them off. Some people refer to this as “walking on eggshells,” but eggs emit only a dull crunch when you step on them. Setting off a landmine is a far more descriptive simile.
11) What goes up must come down. She/He places you on a pedestal only to knock it out from under your feet. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread one minute and the next minute, you’re the devil incarnate.
12) Un-level playing field. Borderlines and Narcissists make the rules; they break the rules and they change the rules at will. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to give them what they want, they change their expectations and demands without warning. This sets you up for failure in no-win situations, leaving you feeling helpless and trapped.
13) You’re a loser, but don’t leave me. “You’re a jerk. You’re a creep. You’re a bastard. I love you. Don’t leave me.” When you finally reach the point where you just can’t take it anymore, the tears, bargaining and threats begin. They insist that they really do love you. They can’t live without you. She/He promises to change. She/He promises it will get better, but things never change and they never get better.
Abuse is a four letter word in many relationships and is becoming too common in our twisted view on relationships. How do you move on from this point when you have already been the victim of an abusive relationship? In the Abuse Section of this website, you can learn all about healing from abuse, the process, and other great information. There is a way to recover from an abusive relationship and meet someone else and actually have a normal relationship.
Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD which provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. The practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit A Shrink for Men to read more articles and check out Services and Products on the website for professional inquiries.
If you are in a relationship that is violent, and remember violence is not just physical but also mental and emotional, then seek help when you are able. Seek out local resources in your area such as the Domestic Abuse Shelter. The most dangerous time for a the victim in a violent relationship is when they try to leave. It is scary, but there are people who can help. The Hotline is a national domestic violence help line. Their number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Domestic Abuse Helpline Services for Men and Women
24-hour hotline operated by staff and trained volunteers to offer information and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence. They provide information about the issues concerning intimate partner violence. Referrals to community resources. Resource directory for the country including where to find (if available) “male victim friendly” resources in your area. Assistance in filing protection from abuse orders (where available).
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