Working with couples is something I have done for many years. During my work experience, I have gained a lot of information and knowledge in the types of people who tend to end up in abusive relationships. Abusive relationships can happen to the best of us. I know because I was in one many years ago and I recognise some of the traits of abuse victims in myself.
One thing victims of domestic abuse tend to share is a strong sense of self sacrifice. They feel it is their place to put others before them. Self sacrifice isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when paired up with an abusive person who has a lack of empathy, it can be a dangerous and unhealthy combination. Victims of abusive relationships tend to possess self doubt and often have low self esteem. When the abuse starts, instead of being indignant, the victim often blames themselves. They tell themselves to try harder next time. They crave love and approval and will put up with negative and demeaning behaviour in order to get validation and affection.
Abusers on the other hand tend to be controlling and often display narcissistic characteristics. They have little empathy and their behaviour is geared around meeting their own needs. They never take the blame for anything and are very good at manipulation. Abusers, sadly, often have a history of a difficult childhood and this will be where their dysfunctional behaviour began. Behaviour that starts in childhood is often harder to counteract – the longer someone has been behaving in a certain way, the harder it is to break the pattern.
Abusers can change although this is the minority. Narcissists tend to believe they are right and others are wrong, with this kind of attitude it is rare that they will seek help. Thye may have short lived relationships and actually feel unhappy a lot of the time but it takes a lot for an abuser to really look at their own behaviour and make changes.
Abuse usually emerges in some form or other (jealousy, possessiveness, constant criticism etc) within the first three months. Look out for signs – someone who overwhelms you by being really ‘full on’ in the beginning. This isn’t always a clear indicator of future abuse on its own, but it is one of the usual signs.
Love yourself and respect yourself enough to stand up for yourself. Everyone deserves a second chance but if the abuse becomes a pattern that keeps repeating, be very wary! It is best to get out early before you become too emotionally involved. Trust your instincts!
Mandy offers couple counselling and also offers individual counselling for victims of domestic abuse. Contact her for more details. This counselling is offered worldwide via Skype.
Photo by hernanpba