All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

2. The Effects of Emotional Abuse

The above diagram illustrates the cycle most abusive relationships rotate through.

My Abusive Relationship

Anyone who has visited my Facebook page will see that my relationship status is listed as “it’s complicated…”; I cannot be with another person until I have healed the scars from my previous relationship.

The reason I am finding it so hard to heal those scars is simple; I still love her. I know this is irrational…but that’s what depression is. A cavalcade of irrational statements being flung at you by your own mind. You know it is wrong, you know it is unhealthy, you know you shouldn’t feel that way…but love is just as irrational as depression. Combine the irrationality of love, depression and an abusive relationship and what do you get: utter brain shutdown.

It’s so hard for me to write about my abusive relationship because of this love. A huge part of me despises this person for what she did to me earlier this year, a huge part of me blames her for what has happened.

Which isn’t to say I don’t also blame myself; I do. I made mistakes, I did many things wrong.

We all do.
We are all human.

But the thing is, and the thing which finally made me realise that I was in an abusive relationship was that she never, not once, admitted to doing anything wrong. Everything was my fault. Everything was always my fault. Even if it had absolutely nothing to do with me, she found a way to blame me for how she was feeling – even after she broke up with me, everything was still my fault.

What finally made me realise I was the victim of abuse, after research, were:
1) Everything on the lists in “Part I” she did at some point inflict on me.
2) That my feelings or needs were never of any importance to her.
when I asked for things they were often made light of or completely discarded out of hand as being not what she wanted. Whilst suffering from glandular fever I was not making enough effort in the relationship or in my personal life, despite the fact I could have died if I pushed myself too hard. When I was diagnosed with CLL, as mentioned in previous posts, she did not seem to care in any way what my problems were – focussed instead on only hers.
3) That no matter what I did, said or thought – it was never good enough for her.
I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what I did. No matter what I said. No matter what I thought. Nothing was ever good enough for her. I have so many examples of my words and actions never being good enough for her we would be here til Doomsday if I were to list them all! The final straw, and what made me finally realise I could not have anything to do with her was when she attacked me for doing two things – one of which she had categorically asked me to do – the other being something she had implied she wanted.

Being a victim in an emotionally abusive relationship is painful, it has long reaching devastating consequences in all areas of your life. The affects of the emotionally abusive relationship in my life are clear to anyone who has read this blog.

So we’re back to the whole irrationality of life, love and depression. She abused me, frequently, I know that, I don’t however know if she knows this. Do abusers ever know what they are doing? Or have they excused their behaviour to themselves as being something the victim has bought on themselves?

I even know why she was abusive toward me, I know why she was eliciting control and the excuse she gave for it.

It is an excuse so many people give in her situation: they hide it behind the pretence of changing you. That what they are doing they are doing for your own good; not realising they are actually doing the complete opposite.

I also have an idea as to who she was trying to change me into, and therefore have a much clearer idea of why she needed to illicit control over me. Which is something most people who are victims of emotional abuse do not ever understand, so at least in this case this is a positive.

This understanding however has not made it any easier to overcome the scars and hurt she has torn into my soul; I honestly don’t think I will ever get over them.

I still love her, I have never lied about that at any point in time. I think I always will love her.

Why am I writing this?

There is a method of treatment for mental health problems called cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT is a psychotherapy based on modifying the assumptions, beliefs and behaviours of a person. In the simplest possible terms, it is all about positive thinking. If you do something wrong, instead of reinforcing the belief that you are a “terrible person” and a “complete failure”, CBT works to modify the way you think so that instead of the negative statements you’re saying to yourself, you instead reaffirm yourself with positive statements. You can read more about CBT at this Wikepeida entry.

The emotionally abusive relationship I experienced, in essence, was CBT in reverse.

If you are telling yourself, and are being told, that you are strong, smart, a good person, courageous then you will eventually believe that you are (CBT at work people!)

If, however, you are telling yourself, and are being told, that you are weak, useless, pathetic, insignificant, never thinking of others, selfish then you will eventually believe that you are (reverse CBT at work people!)

No amount of pretending will make you believe you are a good person if all someone is telling you is the exact opposite. Especially if you have more than one person saying those things to you.

I think emotional abuse is something the world needs to become more aware of. Everyone in relationships make mistakes, argue, bicker, annoy, upset and hurt the other person. It is how these issues are handled and overcome that defines the emotional connection the two of you share. There is a difference between constructive criticism and abusive criticism, there is a difference between a constructive conversation and an abusive one.

No-one – ever, period – deserves to be the victim of abuse in any form.

Endnote

I have written these two posts in an effort to bring emotional abuse into the spotlight.

I am aware of the mistakes I made in my relationship and am not excusing them in any way.

Whilst in the relationship I never thought what was happening to me was abuse, it was only after (specifically the months following the break-up) that I realised I was not (nor had been) treated well in any respect. It was only through research that I started to make the connection with emotional abuse.

If you feel that you are the victim of abuse please talk to someone, anyone. You do not have to deal with it yourself, and you should never feel that you are alone. In hindsight, this is what I should have done.

4 thoughts on “2. The Effects of Emotional Abuse

  1. my father was like this person you’re talking about…i agree with you, emotional abuse needs to be addressed way more in every way!! so sorry we can relate in this way.

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    • When I first wrote that post in 2007 there was virtually no discussion on emotional abuse. Even today, I feel it’s not taken as seriously as physical and sexual abuse, even though the damage is just as severe, if not more so as no-one can see the bruises and scars that are inflicted.

      I’ve been reading your wonderful and beautifully written blog (and will comment when I can wrestle past the anxiety I have over leaving comments). Your bravery in how you’ve dealt – and are dealing with – your issues is admirable. To more people who speak out over this issue, the more others will be encouraged to do the same.

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      • i am so honoured that you found the strength to comment! feel free anytime, i think i have lots to learn from you! we all do. have you read my posts on here about emotional abuse and the invisible scars? Please keep posting! we need your voice!
        thank you for calling me brave, i guess i fail to see myself that way, but i guess it does take courage for all of us to deal with this stuff. i agree, this blog isn’t just therapeutic for me, i like you am trying to bring awareness to this kind of abuse. i hope my posts don’t seem spiteful or bitter…i am just telling the harsh truth.

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  2. Thank you for writing about this. I think you are incredibly brave.

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