Many people have a difficult time defining abuse in relationships. Often, we think the signs are simply the “ups and downs” of relationships. But consider the following: Do you notice your relationships falling into a negative, repeating pattern? Have you recently experienced…yelling, name calling, demeaning sarcasm, humiliating insults, coercive examination of your actions, threats, or have watched this happen to someone you care about? Is there one specific relationship you’re involved in that impacts your ability to be productive, or to enjoy life? You may feel plagued by conflict, that you are being constantly blamed or labeled as the problem in the relationship. You may believe you are the cause of the abuse.
Sufferers of abuse often:
Perhaps you suspect, or know intuitively, that something is wrong, but you just can’t seem to put your finger on it. You may find yourself wanting to correct the behaviors of someone close to you. Perhaps you don’t feel loved the way you’d like to be loved. You find yourself adapting to someones manipulation, or their addictive behaviors, a lack of intimacy, or unwanted intimacy. You might have confided in another, but received unhelpful advice, or they may even have informed the abuser. Abusive relationships can encompass a variety of symptoms and causes, however, there is hope. Through counseling your situation can improve.
Statistics reveal that dysfunctional or abusive relationships are almost more common than functional relationships themselves. Exhaustion, frustration, and words like “deadlock” are not uncommon. Many individuals in abusive relationships feel as though they spend their days avoiding conflict, managing what feels like hypersensitivity, or simply completing tasks for the abuser in order for them not to be triggered. Many others struggle to survive emotionally, treading water in a sea of despair. Sometimes they preserve dysfunctional relationships for children, financial reasons, or a sense of moral obligation. Fear of change, too, can prolong unhealthy relationships, but change is what needs to happen.
Change is possible, and it requires personal work. Change is painful, and you are already full of pain. However, change is necessary for you to succeed in your relationships. Change is required to stop surviving and start thriving. Change is essential to improve the quality of your interactions, and reduce or eliminate the damaging effects of abuse.
Abusers choose to stay abusive because it works for them; it is how they make others do what they want. All too often we let abusers continue to be abusive. Somehow we are trapped in our situation. But we always have choices. We can choose to change how we engage difficult, damaging, abusive people and situations. We can choose actions, people and situations that bless us and fill us. We can choose not to accept the minimal.
I know the shame and hopelessness people feel when they have tried everything and there seems to be no way out. I have looked in the mirror and wondered if I had the courage, the strength, the perseverance to make difficult changes with people who resisted every attempt I made to be emotionally healthy. I am a Christian counsellor, and experiencing God’s power and wisdom in my most difficult moments was key to my healing journey. I know how to counsel people to connect God, Jesus, and the power to change. I have a deep insight into abusive relationships from my own experience, as well as from my professional experience and training. I deal effectively, sensitively, and without judgment or condemnation.
I’ve invested a significant amount of time into my relationship already, and the abuse is ongoing.
Relationship skills counseling will focus on where and how you devote your time and energy. Time and again you may have spent your time and energy on managing pain and dysfunction, yet it this not brought about real, productive change. Often we have feelings and almost unconscious beliefs that block our ability to see alternatives or to act on them even when we can see them. Counselling and prayer will focus on creating strategies so that you can invest your valuable time and energy in building a better future. There is no easy way out of abusive relationships. We can remain abused and in pain, or we can experience the discomfort and challenge of change.
I may not be able to financially afford it. My finances are bound to my abusive relationship, and I’ve invested a significant amount of money into it already.
Finances are a very real concern, but we must invest in ourselves. We make major purchases, like cars and homes, but we do not expect them to function for twenty-five years or more without maintenance. Relationships are the same and you are the same. Just like your body requires exercise, and good food, you and your relationships require regular time, energy, money and expertise in order to function well. If your current strategies are not getting the results, you need to find someone who knows how to help you change your relationship and your life. Just as you would pay for school to learn a professional skill set that improves the quality of your life, this is a relational skill set that will improve the quality of your interactions.
I am the victim of abuse, though. The other person is the one with the problem.
People give many reasons for remaining in abusive relationships for long periods of time: finances, children, shame or condemnation, working in close proximity to the abuser, attending the same church. They acknowledge making excuses for evidence of abuses, or pacifying the abuser with explanations, unreasonable special considerations and in general being hyper vigilant of any behavior that might provoke abuse. These are ways of participating in an abusive relationship, even when it feels painful! No blame lies here: those who cannot see a way out learn how to survive. However, these behaviors and others often help the abusive relationship and behavior to continue. Together, we will learn how you can solve problems and succeed in relationships.
Will this even work?
Yes. Change is difficult, and change takes time, to be sure, but change works. Abusive relationships often center themselves around patterns of dysfunction, and we fall into these patterns as a means of dealing with abuse. Change is the exact opposite of this. You have tried solutions many times in the past which haven’t worked, but as you’ve tried those solutions you’ve also added to your ability to narrow down a true solution by process of elimination. And now you are here.