Abuse comes under many different guises, in many different forms but the results are usually the same, emotional pain. This emotional pain may look like different things to different people but still it remains the same. There are physical abuses that take the form of violence, attack from one to another or from both to each other. Then there is emotional or psychological abuse that is to use words to demean a person usually for control, the stripping of ones self-esteem and confidence. Mental abuse is much the same as emotional abuse and usually used by a person to describe what is happening to them but they do not equate their emotional health being noticeably harmed.
Abuse is common and can range from mild to severe. Affects of abuse is based on perception therefore what one person may feel is mild abuse may be interpreted by the receiver as being monumental, damaging their emotional health significantly. Abuse happens even in children in the form of bullying, name-calling etc. Abuse happens from parents to their children not just your readily identified physical or sexual traits but emotional too. Abuse happens between ‘friends,’ in the workplace, in society. Countries abuse other countries. Abuse happens in relationships that commence with good feelings. Abuse is soul-destroying, abuse is harmful for both the perpetrator and victim although the perpetrator senses some form of warped achievement in the denigration of another. Abuse happens when one person has been abused and transfers their feelings of hurt onto another, abusing them in either the same way or differently. Abuse is about control regardless of the victimisation aspect for the perpetrator. Abuse is negative and a mis-use of trust.
When we can identify what abuse is we are all in better positions to challenge both our own aspects of abuse then secure better ways in managing our emotions without using abuse. Many people who are abusive do not consider themselves to be abusive because they do not correlate the abusive behaviour to being harmful to someone else. These people may use an abusive act as a continuation of how they have been treated. Paradoxically, these same people know how they felt to be abused yet continue with the same pattern. For example, a mother may have grown up being physically chastised and resorts to using the same patterns of ‘discipline’ towards her own children. She may know that at the time of her receiving her ‘discipline,’ it hurt both emotionally and physically but she will continue to do the same to her own children. Or the man who watched his own father use abuse to control his wife, his family. This may be in the form of shouting or physical force to get what he wanted. He then goes onto doing exactly the same with his own wife and family even knowing how he felt as a child. What about the little child who is regularly shouted at, he or she too learns to shout to communicate. Even without the awareness of the abuse taking place, abuse happens and many people would be totally shocked to admit that they too are abusers. Abuse is learnt not just to the perpetrator of abuse but also the person receiving the abuse, victims learn to receive abuse and may retaliate by abusing another. This is what is called cyclical abuse, the continuation of abuse from the abused to being the abuser. However, I must reinforce that abuse ranges from mild to severe therefore abuse is open to many people who may not even think that their actions are abusive to others.
Since abusive behaviours can range from mild to severe and in that covers many different types of abuse, how do we keep free of abusive behaviours especially in our relationships? As previously reported, it is by first identifying what abuse is and what abuse could look like. If you have read this far and find that you do find yourself acting abusive and terrified by this act there are ways to unlearn what you have learnt. First we must identify abuse.
· Are you or have you been abusive to another?
· What does this abuse look like?
· When are you most likely to be abusive, in what situations?
· What outcome do you expect to achieve from using abuse?
· Are you aware of how your recipient may be feeling when you are acting abusively?
· What are the signs that your recipient is feeling abused?
· How do you feel when you are being abusive?
Connecting the abuse to your thoughts will help you to establish insight into your behaviour and how this may affect another. When you have made this connection, you are then in a greater position to tackle this negative behaviour. You may be experiencing discord in your relationship and firmly attribute blame onto your partner without first looking at your own levels of participation. You may be fooling yourself with… ‘Well, he did this… so I did that… ” or vice versa; abusive patterns of behaviour. Now you may think that you are only reacting to an action but what you are really doing is responding by being abusive too. What do you hope to gain? How will these behaviours support a loving and nurturing relationship? Remember, abuse is a mis-use of trust. Relationships need to exhibit trust in order to be fulfilling, when this trust is damaged or gone, the breakdown of the relationship is inevitable. Even for the relationships that continue, the harmony between the couple is obviously missing, continuing the abuse towards each other. The lack of negotiations and straight, honest talking is abuse too.
· How supported do you feel by your partner?
· If you do not feel supported, do you think that your partner’s lack of support is being abusive towards you?
· Are there any situations in your relationship that you require your partner to act but they refuse for whatever reason?
· Do you think they are being abusive towards you?
· How do you feel at these times?
· Have you been able to speak to your partner about your feelings?
· How have they reacted?
Change will only happen when a person feels there is more benefit to change than there is to keep their original behaviour.
· What benefits do you think that your partner may benefit from not changing?
· How complicit have you been in determining a lack of positive change?
More importantly, do you think that change is necessary for your emotional health to be positive? If this answer is ‘yes’ there are several things that you must do to secure change and to maintain change. When employing change of any sort, a good trick is to ask yourself ‘what would not happen if I… and follow this up with something relevant. In this case, ask yourself ‘what would not happen if we resolved and removed abuse from our relationship?’ There are no typos here, the question is as written.
If you have been honest up until now then you would have identified some abusive behaviours in your relationship. Next you must speak with your partner about your feelings. You must try not to use a blame-laden attitude, you are trying to resolve difficulties or making sure you both know what could contribute to abuse. Do not seek to ask your partner when the mood is exacting. Choose a more relaxed time when both of you are free from intrusions or disturbances. Set the scene to be nurturing. Evenings are a good time to have this type of discussion especially when the night air has arrived. Dim the lights, light candles, whatever you usually do for your partner to set a romantic mood. Get this right and the rewards could be fantastic. Ask your partner to respond honestly whether they feel that you have been taking them for granted and if so, how? Please do not use the word ‘abusive’ as this can be lead to a volatile situation due to the word being received as emotive. Follow this up with asking them what change in you would make them feel less taken for granted. Consider this request. Apologise if necessary and clearly state that you would like to create a more trusting relationship with each other therefore any issues must be dealt with that could cause problems later on.
Now that you have given your partner their time to possibly explain any perceived abuse from you, it is your time to explain how you feel. Using the same tactic of not using blame but gently explain what might make you feel taken for granted. Stroke their hand, hair, whatever to support a continuing calm mood. Make your partner feel that you are not being confrontational. However, be clear, do not wimp out and blur your feelings trying to soothe your partner. But do not appear forceful. Give examples to contextualise your thoughts and feelings enabling your partner to connect to particular situations. Otherwise you could end up appearing to be having a go! Keep reassuring your partner of your intentions, to increase trust and positive feelings between you both. You are both quite vulnerable right now but that does not have to be a bad thing, enjoy this level of intimacy. Even the most difficult of conversations can be done uneventfully. It is down to the parties involved to maintain a calm situation. When you both feel a sense of connection, change is usually guaranteed. A feeling of satisfaction is apparent; an appreciation of achievement is evident. This moves you both in your relationship to being closer and more in tuned with each other.
Not everyone that may be abusive would readily admit they do so due to wanting control although this is very high on the list of why abuse happen. Nevertheless, it is nearly always learnt behaviour and may be just a method someone uses to cope with situations, for control or otherwise. Or just maybe they really never thought a particular behaviour was abusive. Whatever the reason for abuse, remember the resulting experience for the recipient is usually depletion on their emotional health. Even if a person thinks that there are more benefits to keeping old behaviours, they need to know categorically, there are never any winners, not them or anyone else. I repeat,people may not want to readily admit to being abusive but this lamentable attitude does not serve anyone positively, change is necessary as perpetrators of abuse are also victims to themselves. Abuse is about control but if do not agree with this then why would someone abuse?