Abuse is a loaded word. Often we correlate abuse with something large, ominous and magnified. In actuality, abuse can be insidious, smaller and harder to identify. Overtimes, smaller acts of abuse can snowball into a larger, more prominent pattern. Typically, many people feel that something is intrinsically wrong in their gut but are unable to figure out why. It may be easier to blame yourself by assuming that you have low self-esteem or are paranoid rather than successfully recognizing the realities of the situation.
Consider these stories…
Shruti: “My husband is always judging me. When we are alone he is lovely but when other people, especially his family are around he is a different person. He belittles me, makes fun of me, and ignores me and talks down to me. When I say I don’t like it, he says I’m being over sensitive and that it’s pushing him away.”
Payal: “My partner doesn’t like me going anywhere without him, even to the mall. I have to ask permission for every little thing I do. If I try to go, he’ll often hide my money or keys or tell me that something bad will happen to me. He says that he is just trying to protect me but I feel he is being controlling.”
Ankit: “My girlfriend has a terrible temper. I’ll come home from work and she’ll have a drink and start calling me a string of nasty words. It’s always because of something that I’ve apparently done; I didn’t text back quickly enough, I didn’t call on my lunch break.”
Yatin: “When my partner is upset she doesn’t talk to me for days. She won’t reply to my messages, answer my calls or even look at me. No matter what I do, there is just no way to get her attention. I feel like a kid being punished.”
Neha: “My boyfriend expects me to text him every hour. If I don’t text him, he will bombard me with texts and calls. If I’m in a meeting or busy, he will assume I’m up to no good. It’s become exhausting and actually makes me doubt him too.”
What form can abuse take?
There are obvious forms of abuse such as physical violence and rape and there are more elusive forms of abuse that can be harder to spot. The issue is that it can sometimes feel difficult, if not impossible, to separate whether or not we are being abused from our own personal issues including trust issues and low self-esteem. Often, abusive partners will purposely respond in this way, to capitalize on their partners’ doubts, knowing that the partner would sooner doubt themselves than them.
Capt. Aditi Samant explains the many ways in which abuse can show itself, “It’s important to note that if something feels wrong to you, then it is wrong. You’ll know personally whether or not you have any underlying issues such as low self-esteem or paranoid and even if you do, it’s your partners’ role to be supportive in these instances. If your partner frequently behaves in a manner that makes you feel emotionally, mentally, sexually or physically unsafe, then there is an abusive influence at play.”
Samant outlines key areas where abuse can bloom:
- Humiliating, embarrassing, judging, critiquing and isolating
- Dominating, controlling, guilt-tripping and shaming
- Blaming, making excessive and unreasonable demands and having impossible expectations
- Stonewalling, giving the silent treatment and ignoring for excessive periods of time
- Encouraging co-dependence and discouraging independence, playing into insecurities and lowering self-esteem
How can therapy help?
If abuse is at play, partners naturally have two options:
- They can choose to discuss the issues with their partner and seek a resolution together
- Or they can choose to stay or leave the relationship whilst working on themselves
Therapy helps trigger the clients own shortcomings; has the abuse triggered self-esteem issues? Depression? Anxiety? Self-harm? Therapy can also help attempt to mend and repair the relationship. Oftentimes, abusers behave as they do due to childhood conditioning. There is often a deep seated fear of betrayal and loss of control at their core.
If you feel that you are being abused within a relationship, therapy can be the solution either to free you from the dynamic or to help you work on yourself and your relationship.
Expert advice in this post has been provided by Capt. Aditi Samant and edited by OyeHelp.