Tag Archives: domestic abuse

Emotional abuse in relationships


abuse photo

Emotional abuse in relationships

Unfortunately, many people use others to take their frustrations out on. They have a bad day at work and they transfer that anger and frustration on to a ‘safer target’ – usually a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband or wife. This behaviour is incredibly common yet very few people ever talk about it. I liken domestic abuse to an ice berg – what we know about and see is like the tip of the ice berg but the largest part remains hidden. The reality is very frightening. I would even go so far as to say at least one couple out of every five experiences domestic violence in some form – either physical, mental, emotional or all three. The longer the abuse continues, the harder it becomes to break free from the destructive cycle. The victim is subjected to a pattern of damaging behaviour that erodes their confidence and sense of self. Their identity is slowly chipped away and they become ever more passive.

Signs to look out for:

If you are in a relationship where you feel you cannot be yourself for fear of criticism or judgement, you are in an unhealthy situation. This does not mean it is necessarily abusive but the foundations are not good going forward. Each relationship is unique but trust your instincts.

Other signs – jealousy and possessiveness. No one has the right to own another person and control who they see and where they go.

Some abusers tend to be fantastic at knowing what to say in the beginning. They are charming and you feel so loved yet it can all be part of a strategy to hook you emotionally. Once hooked emotionally, a person is much easier to control. Abusive people tend to go on the offensive and move quickly in the early stages…be wary if they want to hurry things along. It may seem flattering but if it is the right relationship, it will continue in the right direction even if at a slower pace.

Someone who regularly belittles you, trying to keep you in your place is usually someone who has low self esteem and is afraid you will outshine them. They need to keep you full of self doubt in order to control you. Someone who doesn’t encourage you and who doesn’t want you to achieve your best is not ultimately on your side.

Minimising your feelings is another form of emotional abuse. Do you feel you are never heard? You talk but the other person doesn’t listen and keeps imposing their own views upon you. If you are told that you are “too sensitive” it is a way to avoid dealing with what has upset you. Every now and then we can be too sensitive, so ignore one-offs. However – look out for patterns of behaviour, they are more damaging. No one is perfect and we can all say and do the wrong things at times. The difference though is that a non-abusive person will genuinely not want to upset someone they love and will try not to do it again.

When things go wrong, is it somehow always your fault? This is another sign of abuse. Somehow, your words get twisted and you are left apologising and doubting yourself. See this for what it is – emotional abuse.

Testing your emotions – some people will test you. They will say something upsetting and see what response they get. When they see you get upset they feel satisfied that they still have an emotional hold over you. Instead of being assertive in their attempts to find out how you feel, they will play games to get reactions. Sometimes displaying passive aggressive behaviour.

Abusers are generally cowards who feel quite powerless. This is why they try to control others to give them that sense of power. They can seem like emotional vampires and in the long run they will drain you completely.

If you suspect that you are in an abusive relationship it might be time to see a counsellor to help you break free. Get in touch if you need help or check out my YouTube video for more info on abusive relationships.

Life is too short to spend it being a ‘smaller version’ of the real you!

Mandy X


Why it’s no good to stay in an unsuitable relationship


relationship photo

Why it’s no good to stay in an unsuitable relationship

Let’s clarify what an unsuitable relationship is. Relationships sit on a continuum with truly awful relationships at one end and perfectly satisfying relationships at the other. This post refers mainly to relationships where there is abuse.

There are many reasons that people stay in relationships-many of these reasons do not make sense yet we justify our behaviour in order to cope with staying. Most people stay in an unsuitable relationship out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of being lonely and fear of never finding someone else again. This limited thinking creates a limiting life.

We take on limiting self beliefs in order to cope with our dismal relationships. We tell ourselves that things will improve, that we could never make it on our own or end up believing that we are somehow worthy and deserving of the bad treatment we are receiving.

Staying in an unsuitable relationship is like feeding yourself poison everyday. When you’re made to feel inadequate and inferior, it chips away and erodes your confidence and your self-esteem. I have been in relationships where I have become a shell of my former self. I began to believe all the criticism and felt powerless to change anything. The longer I stayed the more powerless and helpless I felt. An unsuitable relationship reminds you on a daily basis that you are living a life below what you deserve. Everyone is entitled to feel loved, worthy and supported. Abuse in relationships is wide spread. I compare it to an iceberg-the part that sticks out is the part that the public sees that the majority of abuse goes unnoticed. More often than not, abusers are affable and extremely popular with friends, family and colleagues.

The truth is however very different. Abusers are cowards and they take out their daily frustrations on their loved ones. So much abuse goes on behind closed doors and most of it is hidden because of the pressure we face to show a happy and united front to the world.

Do not live a lie. Remind yourself what you are worth what you really deserve and make the necessary changes to achieve your true potential.

There is a fantastic charity in my area called Your Sanctuary. Helpline: 01483 766822

Website: Your Sanctuary

There is also another charity nationwide: Women’s Aid

Take your power back. It is possible to do as I have done it-it’s not easy but it can be done. Believing yourself and expect better for yourself.

Mandy X

Photo by pissedoffpatriot007

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for trauma

stress photo


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for trauma

CBT can be used for all sorts of problems ranging from anxiety, depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. I found this brilliant summary of CBT and have copied it below:

The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life
By Albert Ellis, Marcia Grad Powers

Important points to remember:

“Rather than focusing on the psychology of the abuser themselves, this book looks at what you can do (as the person on the receiving end of abuse)to help change the situation. There are 7 basic ‘truths’ which form the core of this book, as follows:
1. You, and only you, create your feelings.
2. Your view of a person, situation, or event determines your reality of it.
3. People, situations and events do not upset you. It is your interpretation of them and what you tell yourself about them that cause you to become upset.
4. Thinking produces feelings, which generate behavior.
5. Your view of yourself, others, and everything that happens to you is filtered through the screen of your beliefs.
6. You keep painful feelings alive with your upsetting thoughts by repeating them to yourself over and over again.
7. You can change your feelings and behaviour by changing the underlying beliefs and thinking that create them.

Mandy X

Photo by topgold

domestic violence in relationships

Domestic Violence


violent man and woman photo


Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (now more commonly referred to as domestic abuse), is a broad umbrella term for many types of abuse that take place, mostly behind closed doors. Domestic violence can be divided into three categories:

1) Physical violence

2) Emotional abuse

3) Mental abuse

Physical violence involves hitting, punching, restraining – any type of physical assault on another person. This type of domestic violence is a clear cut area as it is easily identifiable.

Emotional abuse is another type of domestic violence even though it cannot be physically seen. In many ways, emotional abuse can be harder to deal with as a victim often doubts their perceptions and the abuser will often belittle the victim, telling them they are being too sensitive. Emotional abuse involves name calling, constant criticism, treating you like a child, accusing and blaming (nothing is ever the abusers fault…they will tell you that you “made them do it” – this is utter nonsense. Never believe it. Silent treatment and withdrawing affection are also signs of emotional abuse.

Mental abuse and emotional abuse are similar in nature although emotional abuse affects how you feel about yourself and mental abuse affects how you think. Mental abuse could take the form of possession and jealousy, blaming you for doing things you haven’t done. For example – flirting with someone when you haven’t done anything. Mental abuse leads you to question your beliefs about the world and about yourself.

Domestic violence is a growing phenomenon and affects men and women. It can be found in all walks of life. Domestic violence is well hidden and victims are often reluctant to come forward due to humiliation. Many feel they should have known better and fear being judged by others. Domestic violence can be likened to an iceberg – we only see the tip but underneath, there is a vast number of people suffering in silence.

I grew up in a home where there was domestic violence. I remember waking up when I was four years to my mother’s crying. I went to the lounge to see what was going on and my mother’s boyfriend had my mother on the ground. He snarled at “get back to your bed”. I was so frightened I did as he said. My mother and I were both petrified of Phillip. Eventually, my mother found the strength to leave him and no one believed that Phillip could possibly be capable of hurting my Mom. This same man told everyone what a devout christian he was and even gave me a Holy Bible as a gift. What a hypocrite.

Abusers can often be charming, they are  adept and adopting different personas to hide their dark side. Domestic violence is all about control. Abusers are good at justifying their actions either by blaming the victim or by minimising what they do. They very rarely look at their own behaviour and change their ways as they believe they are entitled to behave the way they do.

Domestic violence often comes from abusers who have witnessed violence in their own upbringings but this isn’t always the case. Alcohol and drugs can worsen a situation. If you think you are a victim of domestic violence, get help. Abusers rarely change their ways.

Typical signs of domestic violence:

Physical abuse, jealousy and possessiveness, controlling finances, controlling where you go, who you see, how you dress. Belittling you, keeping you ‘small’ – often due to the abuser’s insecurities and low self esteem issues.





http://www.thehotline.org/    (USA)

A book on the subject of domestic violence that I highly recommend:

Mandy X

Photo by ulisse albiati

normalising bad behaviour

Normalising Bad Behaviour

abuse photo

Normalising Bad Behaviour

In the beginning of a relationship, things will seem great. When you are with someone who has a tendency to be abusive, there will be subtle signs that begin to emerge. Normally, these signs are definitely visible by the 3rd or 4th month.

Abusive partners are on best behaviour initially and will seem extra attentive and considerate. Any extreme behaviour should be taken note of. I have had abusive boyfriends in the past and they were often the ones who started out as very romantic and caring. Over the top caring though, which is flattering but sometimes a subtle warning sign of things to come. A solid consistent and grounded partner will be more ‘even keel’, not as romantic perhaps, not going out of their way, but they will maintain their initial level of interest in you (even if more sedate) whereas an abusive partner would never be able to keep up the intense interest they initially throw your way. It is a way to lure you in and get you emotionally hooked.

Bad behaviour begins to creep in – being moody, sniping at you, criticising you, snapping… At first they may seem few and far between but they begin to appear with alarming regularity. Your gut instinct/intuition starts to nudge you but you ignore its pokes. Surely this lovely person is going to treat me well…

If you look at your mutual and healthy relationships you will see that these people don’t put you down and rarely cross the line and if they do, they feel bad about it and don’t keep repeating it. They make amends. Abusive partners turn things around. They are verbally and emotionally abusive and then turn it around and make it somehow your fault. They rarely accept responsibility for the way they treat you.

Abusive partners often work to make their victims feel less sensitive to, or more accepting of offensive behaviour  by minimising,  down playing  or mocking  any negative reaction to inappropriate acts.  This results in the victim normalising bad behaviour. They accept their abusive partner’s logic and protest a little less each time. Very dangerous…

They learn to accept as normal what they once believed to be unacceptable, wrong, or dangerous.  Normalising bad behaviour is achieved when the victim no longer questions abusive behaviour as inappropriate and starts to accept it as normal.

What Normalising Sounds Like:   

  • “Stop being so judgmental.”
  • “Your friends never had any problems with it.”
  • “What a stick in the mud  You need to lighten up!”
  • “Why can’t you just let it go?”
  • “You’re so sensitive”
  • “I was only joking”

What it feels like:

The process of normalising is usually a sustained effort over time. Most victims of abuse notice the signs but accept it as they desire sex, money, acceptance or the promise of love.

Being in a relationship with a personality-disordered individual (many abusers often have personality disorders – a thinking disorder) has sometimes been compared to an addiction. One of the side effects of being addicted to another person is the lengths some non-personality-disordered individuals might go to in order to preserve  their connection to the very person who is doing them harm.   Denial about the extent of the abuse often becomes core to the non-personality-disordered individual’s own psyche.  He or she may begin to normalise, or justify abnormal behaviours in the other person in order to make those behaviours seem less disturbing, The non-personality-disordered individual thus adopts codependent and enabling behaviours, and may even begin mirroring some of the bad actions they once objected to.  

Losing perspective on what is acceptable behaviour weakens your own self-esteem and judgment. Normalising bad behaviour enables further abuse to continue. If you recognise that you are in an abusive relationship, you can break the cycle. Never lower your standards that you have for yourself. Abuse in relationships is a growing problem with only a small proportion ever being revealed –  a bit like an ice berg with only the tip showing but with a huge massive hidden under the water. You are not alone. Get help and get out.

Mandy X

For more information on abusive relationships – watch my YouTube video on the warning signs: http://youtu.be/kGN_tzmM6Fk

Source/Refs: http://outofthefog.net/CommonBehaviors/Normalizing.html

Domestic Abuse


abuse photo

Domestic abuse is widespread and often goes unreported. There are many fears around domestic abuse and often the abused person has become worn down by their abuser, as well as the constant criticisms and insults. Many believe they have somehow contributed to the situation. We are all responsible for our own behaviour. An abuser is 100% responsible for their words and their actions. Many abusers justify their actions by saying their partner provokes them, or “makes them” do things. This is nonsense. No one holds a gun to an abusers head and forces them – there can be NO excuses for abusers.

Definition of domestic abuse:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”

The behaviour captured in this definition includes:

“… a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim”.

Source: Home Office

Last year ministers redefined domestic abuse, telling forces and other criminal justice agencies that it included both violence and acts of psychological control that left victims in terror. There are a string of laws that already cover acts of violence, stalking and harassment – but none of them refer in their wording to personal relationships or the precise terms of the official definition of domestic abuse.

Thankfully, new laws are being introduced into the UK that could see this harmful and damaging behaviour be dealt with more seriously. Domestic abuse not only affects adults, but also the children/family members witnessing the abuse.Abusers could be charged with a criminal offence for psychological abuse. Mrs May said: “The government is clear that abuse is not just physical. Victims who are subjected to a living hell by their partners must have the confidence to come forward. I want perpetrators to be in no doubt that their cruel and controlling behaviour is criminal.

Abusers are clever, the re-programme their partners to believe that they are the cause of the abuse. That somehow it is something they are doing wrong. The abuser justifies their behaviour.

Types of Abuse:

Physical abuse – hitting, shoving, pushing, slapping, physical force

Emotional abuse – belittling and criticising, name calling, insults, verbal abuse where a person’s character is attacked

Mental abuse – abusers lead their partners to believe the deserve the abuse. They constantly remind their partner of all their shortcoming. People with low self esteem are far more likely to succumb to an abuser’s behaviour. People with dysfunctional upbringings may also be more vulnerable.

Limiting your social life, limiting access to finances, controlling your behaviour – such as what you wear, where you go etc are all signs of abuse. Jealousy and possessiveness are also forms of abuse when control becomes a part of the picture. Prosecutions for domestic violence in Britain nearly tripled from 35,000 in 2005 to 103,000 last year, and the conviction rate increased from 46 per cent to 74 per cent.

Abusers now face the possibility of a prison sentence. No one should have the right to denigrate another, insult them or treat them in a disrespectful manner.

See my YouTube video for more info on the signs to look for – are you in an abusive relationship? Domestic abuse is rife, be part of the new movement to report these bullies and get your life back.


You Tube Video – Abusive Relationships


Mandy X






Photo by moggs oceanlane

Abusive Relationships




Abusive relationships

Abuse in relationships is an area that I specialise in, not only from a professional stance but also from a personal one. my mother and her two sisters all experienced abusive relationships. Abuse comes in many forms-physical, emotional and verbal. My mother and her two sisters experienced all three forms of abuse. I remember growing up with angry and violent men surrounding me. At one stage we lived in a block of flats in Hillbrow, Johannesburg in South Africa. My mum’s youngest sister’s boyfriend kicked in the glass doors at the entrance to the office block. I can also recall an incident when I was five or six years old when my mum’s boyfriend tried to access our apartment from the next-door apartment’s balcony. there was never a dull moment growing up although many ways I think that would have been preferable.

The Oscar Pistorius’s trial has brought it all home to me. Judging from the whatsapp messages sent between Oscar and Reeva Steenkamp, it is clear that he was a jealous, possesses and controlling boyfriend. Often abusers have low self-esteem and many insecurities. they cope with these vulnerabilities by belittling and demeaning their partners. They slowly and subtly erode their  partners confidence. It can be such a subtle process that the victim begins to question their own judgement. They are often made to believe that they are “too sensitive” or that there is something wrong with them  because they “cannot take a joke”. abusive partners are often narcissistic, it’s all about them and their needs. Abusers tend to be uptight, controlling, narrowminded and lack confidence in themselves. They often have rigid rules about the world and tend to be suspicious of others.

Thankfully, I cannot remember much of my time with my mother’s abusive boyfriend-Philip. How ironic is it that he gave me a Christian Bible as a gift. Not very Christian to be beating my mother and frightening the life out of me. Apparently after he left, I would sit behind the couch and scream. I also, apparently used to terrorise our two dogs. I absolutely love animals and I can only surmise that I treated the dogs in this way to release all the negative energy that was stored up. I do remember when I was four years old, being awoken by my mothers crying. I got out of bed and found my mother lying on her back in the lounge on the floor with Philip kneeling over her. I pleaded with Philip not to hurt mummy. He roughly responded with “get back to your bed”. This happened three or four times. That is the only incident that I can remember.

I guess the one positive to take from this, is that I have never been with a boyfriend that hits me or uses physical violence in any way. I have unfortunately had experience of verbal and emotional abuse and I am continually shocked by how widespread this type of abuse is. It is vastly under reported and many do not even recognise the signs.

Signs of Abuse:

1) The relationship is hurried forward. Instead of taking time to get to know someone, and an abuser is very adept at emotional manipulation and will shower the potential new partner with attention and compliments. Once the potential new partner is ‘hooked’, the abuse begins.

2) Jealous, possessive and controlling.

3) Verbal abuse. Criticisms, subtle putdowns, negative remarks and questioning your judgement. insults such as “lazy, fat, ugly, slut”.

4) Isolation. An abuser will try to isolate you from your friends and family. This is part of the control.

5) Withholding affection. When you do not behave as they wish, your punishment involves a withdrawal of love, attention and affection.

6) Emotional abuse. Efforts to make you jealous are common. Comparing you to others unfavourably. Constantly questioning your capabilities and belittling what you do and how you do it.

7)Abusers often lack empathy and display narcissistic traits.

The difficulty in identifying and abuse is that they are not always abusive. They can be loving, generous and kind. Once a person is emotionally invested in the relationship they try hard to focus on the positives and minimise the negatives. A subtle system of brainwashing seems to take place and the victim justifies the abusive behaviour. Many victims blame themselves and tell themselves that if only they were better cooks or cleaned the house more efficiently or were a little bit thinner and everything would be okay. This is rarely the case.

An abuser has a dysfunctional way of looking at the world. Therefore, no matter how hard you try to please them, there will always be something lacking. Often victims that become involved with abusive types suffer from low self-esteem as well. This is not always the case though because when emotion becomes involved logic goes out the window. Abusers can be incredibly charming and people are often flabbergasted when the true character of the abuser is revealed.

If you suspect that you may be in an abusive relationship, seriously consider your future options. Rarely do abusers change their ways. Get support from friends and family and local charities and restore some balance. Life is short-make sure you allow yourself to have the best life possible.

Mandy X



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Abuse in Relationships

Crying girl on bench

Crying girl on bench (Photo credit: uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs)

Abuse in Relationships

Abuse takes many forms and considering the exposure in my counselling work, it is an element in relationships that largely goes undetected. Abuse in relationships occurs across socioeconomic borders, cultural backgrounds and is wide spread in all types of communities. It often goes undetected due to the fact that those who are victims of abuse (emotional and/or physical) feel embarrassed and humiliated. They also become brainwashed by the abuser and begin to question themselves.
Common statements from the victim exist such as:
He/she isn’t always mean and unkind.
He/she is always sorry after hitting me or verbally abusing me.
I feel sorry for him/her as they don’t mean to do it.
I love him/her.
They have promised they will change.
I am too afraid to leave him/her.
I would never cope on my own without him/her.
There are many reasons why someone stays with an abuser. They could have had a difficult childhood and somehow have come to believe that they deserve the bad treatment. For many, they have weaknesses (such as low self esteem, lack of confidence, passive personality) – something an abuser will often pick up on and use to their advantage. This makes it easier to control their victim and keep them staying around even when the abuse begins. There are many dysfunctional elements at play that sustain and maintain the abusive relationship.

Types of Abuse:

Physical violence is the obvious one. This is also a more black and white form of abuse. There can be no doubt that a wrongdoing has occurred.
Emotional abuse is harder to pinpoint. It can take the form of subtle body language signs (I know of one couple where the abuser would just give the victim a certain look when they were out that would signify a beating would be waiting when they returned home).
It can be verbal abuse – constant criticism. This is all part of the abuser’s plan to break down the victim’s self esteem and make them more malleable and allows for easier control and manipulation.
Comments such as “You never do anything right. I ask you to do one simple task…”; “You look hideous in that outfit. I am not going out with you looking like that”; “You are nothing without me. No one else would want you.”
The above are just a few examples of verbal abuse.
Abuse in relationships can also take the form of control and possessiveness. A partner who always wants to know where you are, keeps tabs on you and stops you seeing family and friends is engaging in abusive behaviour. The abuser will often cleverly manipulate the situation by saying something like “I only do it because I care about you”. No – they only do it because they care about controlling you.
Abuse is often subtle. Abusers are good at disguising their true intentions. They often marvel at their own clever manipulations. They get a kick out of controlling others. They can make you feel like the most amazing person on the planet and just as easily take it all away, leaving you feeling the most worthless human being. They can do this with only a few words…
If you fear that you might be in an abusive relationship, get help. Abuse very rarely ends without intervention.
Mandy X
Organisations/Charities that can help: