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Abusive Relationships: Part II

View profile for Liz Headley
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Emotional Abuse

It’s a sad fact that some people remain in very unhealthy relationships and become completely diminished by them. Emotional abuse is often insidious and can be extremely difficult to recognise if it has always been part of a long term relationship. Victims of emotional abuse may also resist the idea that they are being abused; there are no physical scars but probably a much reduced sense of self worth, self image and confidence. If you answer yes to any of these questions maybe you should consider how healthy your relationship is:

  • Do you feel dominated and controlled? Which areas of your life do you feel you have control over?
  • Are you regularly subjected to verbal assaults where you may be berated, belittled, criticised, blamed, threatened or humiliated?
  • Are unreasonable demands placed on you by your partner which you can never live up to?
  • Do you feel you always have to say ‘yes’ and agree with your partner for an ‘easy life’?
  • Do you ever feel that your partner has coerced you into behaving in a certain way by playing on fears, guilt or compassion?
  • Are you subject to unpredictable behaviour and dramatic mood swings for no apparent reason from your partner?
  • Are you made to feel guilty for putting your needs first occasionally?
  • Do you face unrelenting criticism and disapproval on a regular basis which eats away at your sense of self worth?
  • Does your partner try to make you unsure of your own perceptions, your memory and at worst your sanity by denying that events or conversations occurred?
  • Are your past mistakes blown out of all proportion or attention focused on any faults you are perceived to have, leaving you feeling humiliated and criticised?
  • Are you living with someone who seems to dislike peace and harmony and will take any opportunity to create disharmony, conflict and discord?

If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, maybe consider how often the situation occurs. If it’s very rare and you are both able to communicate with each other how the situation made you feel then that is a good sign that there are no major power and control issues within the relationship. If it is more frequent and if there is a resistance to discuss feelings provoked from any ‘unhealthy’ treatment, maybe couple relationship therapy may prove useful.

If you are regularly being exposed to domination, control, coercion, threats or humiliation you may well need to consider that the relationship is abusive and decide how you might wish to take things forward.

Brethertons Family Team are conversant with all types of abuse and can offer support and advice to those clients who wish to discuss such circumstances. Clients can rest assured that these sensitive issues will be dealt with professionally and empathically, so they are able to make informed decisions about the future. If you feel it might be helpful to have a chat with someone who will understand then please do contact a specialist in our Family team using the details below.

Liz Headley, Family Consultant Therapist - Rugby

Kim Lehal, Senior Associate - Rugby

Gemma Kelsey, Senior Associate - Banbury