To leave or not to leave? Only you can decide how much you are willing to take from an abusive partner.
Sometimes you’re in so deep you don’t think you can leave. Sometimes the treatment you get, while not great, seems worth the good times. So you put up with the bad times. Whatever decision you make, if you have an abusive partner, you will have to consider how to manage your relationship.
Here are some tactics that may help you:
- Stay strong. Above all, keep these words in your head. Make them your mantra. Abusive people have special talent at giving heartfelt apologies and sweet-talking you into giving them another chance. So they can hook you in again just in time to be cruel once more. Do your best to disengage. Recognize that you never have been a two-some—it’s always been all about the abuser. So stay strong and resist his charms.*
- Set limits. Let your partner know that you will no longer accept certain behaviors from him. Practice this speech alone before you deliver it. Make a list of specific things that are deal-breakers—angrily yelling at you, putting you down in public, punishing you with the silent treatment. Whatever behaviors you will no longer tolerate, do not waver in your conviction. He will try to tell you that he doesn’t really yell that loud, or he’s only kidding when he puts you down. Or whatever. Stand firm and repeat that you will not take it anymore.
- Stand your ground. He’s going to test you, of course. Repeatedly. And you are going to have to remain intransigent. Let him suffer the consequences. If he treats you in a way that is unacceptable, be prepared to stop making excuses for him. To stop cleaning up his messes. To stop trying to fix him. To stop keeping the peace by acquiescing. Be prepared to leave. Leave the room, leave the house, leave the relationship. Because you will no longer accept being abused. When you are willing to walk away, you change the dynamic and you get your power back.
- Put yourself first. Be honest. You have caved to your partner so much you may have lost yourself in your relationship. It is time to think about yourself for a change. Think about your values, your needs, your desires. Then make decisions with what you want in mind. Find people who are not controlling and cultivate them as friends. Engage and connect with people you find interesting, and with people who like you for who you are. People who support you.
- Forgive but don’t forget. Your abusive partner has hurt you. But don’t let him maintain his power over you. When you find the strength to forgive him, you will find that his power diminishes. After all, controlling people are bullies who probably feel helpless and powerless themselves. They use people like you to help them feel okay. And they manipulate you into the relationship because they fear rejection, abandonment, and loneliness. So you can forgive them their faults, but never forget they have harmed you. And you want to be free from harm.
You deserve a loving relationship with someone who supports you, not puts you down. With someone who encourages you, not makes you feel bad. But first you have to love yourself enough to find the strength to break out of an abusive relationship. So you can become the real you.
*Abusers can be women, too. We are using males as the example in this article.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.