Among other worthy issues, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the hopes of shedding light on this topic, I would like to share an article I had published in 2010.
Is my partner supposed to control me?
What is wrong with me?
What is it about me that says…I deserve to be hit?
At least I know he cares when he hits me.
If these are thoughts that ricochet through your mind, you are not alone and there is hope. The confusion and shame that surrounds the offenses you receive can be unbearable. There are many reasons why violence ensues within a relationship. Here are some reasons as to why you may feel trapped in your situation.
Have you ever said the following to yourself? “I am not worth anything.” Or “I deserve to be treated this way.” The meaning of life can be found through intimacy with others. While we are independent beings, our relationships can govern our existence and the way we function. Our relationships can even help or hinder the way we view ourselves.
You may feel as though your religious beliefs support your thoughts of staying in this relationship. Are you finding that your religious training is being tested in regards to the role of husbands and wives? If you have a skewed view of self, coupled with strong religious convictions to be faithful and obedient, it can be difficult to know when to take a stand.
Within any relationship, patterns are established. When good interactions result in good feelings, those in a relationship will work to ensure that these good feelings are repeated. Unfortunately, the same is true in reverse. Unpleasant interactions become patterns as well. Each couple develops their own dance and their own attachment style. A few patterns are typical for abusive relationships: accuse-deny, demand-refuse, criticize-defend, attack-withdraw, attack-attack, and stonewalling.¹
Violence within a relationship may have been the “norm” of your environment. As a child, this pattern of instability, pain, regret, forgiveness, instability, pain, regret, forgiveness, and so on, may have been the only model of a relationship you were shown.
If your partner does not physically hit you, this does not mean that you are not a victim of domestic abuse. The verbal threats, the criticisms, and the shoving are not okay. If your partner attempts to control where you go, what you wear, how much money you spend, the amount of time you spend with friends and family, and/or accuses you of cheating, you too are in an abusive relationship.
Activating The Power of Thought
If you are in contemplation of leaving an abusive relationship, you are already a hero. You have already taken the first step towards regaining peace and safety for you and, if applicable, your children. The way you view yourself and the way you think about your situation may be playing a key role in your current life’s choices. So here are some thoughts to ponder as you begin to take action.
- Attempt to make connections between what “relationships” look like to you as a child and the way your current relationship functions.
- Try to identify any “false beliefs” you have adopted, and begin to challenge them with your inner truths.
- Try to come acutely aware of unhealthy patterns that you can identify.
- Access whether it would be safe to begin the process of changing these patterns without assistance.
If you have a history of violence and abuse in your past and want to shed the history of pain, help is here. However, your safety is of grave importance. So please do not read this article and make rash and/or life threatening decisions. It is human nature to need assistance with some of life’s more challenging situations. So please utilize the resources and links tab above to connect with organizations that are ready and equipped to assist.
If you would like a more healthy and functional way to relate to your partner, there are tools to be learned. Please contact a mental health professional to assist you and your partner in gaining a harmonious and peaceful existence.
¹Worthington, E. L. (1999). Hope-Focused marriage counseling. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
**Click here to view this article in its original version.