The Truth About Abusive Relationships

Too often I see women in my office that grew up dealing with so much (more than any child should have to). And though this can often be such a strength for them (in terms of developing high level of frustration tolerance), this is certainly a doubled-edged sword! In relationships people who deal with what they CAN handle, and not what they SHOULD. Often these relationships are abusive and the partner who has dealt with worse, is not even aware.

Abusive relationships can be verbal, physical or mental. With the unfortunate rise in narcissism this is becoming an increasingly problematic issue in modern relationships. Our society is seeing the one that likes the other the least is the most powerful one in the relationship.  Also arrogance is now being seen as a positive trait in our culture this is impacting relationships. There is more verbal abuse due to the fact people are growing up with higher expectations on their partners believing they SHOULD meet their needs and make them happy (when we are all responsible for our own happiness).

Mental abuse is on the rise due to our society becoming more individualistic leading to us having difficulty seeing our own parts in relationship problems and therefore this results in increase blaming and put down behaviors when partners are not meeting the individuals definition of how they are “supposed to be loved. Everyone is relationships deserves to be treated with respect even when their partner is upset. It is abusive to talk to each other with anger and distain. Partners need to set limits and allow problems in relationships to only be discussed at the level of hurt or fear that is being experienced. This would be considered talking at more of a “healthy” anger than an unhealthy yelling, blaming anger.

Men and women need to know that no matter how compassion, nurturing and nice they are – they cannot heal abusive people .. their niceness can actually make it worse but reinforce the “acceptableness” of the abusive partner’s behavior. Change can only happen when abuse-behaving individuals experience the cost of their actions and are able to see how what they are doing is making their lives worse. This is something they learn by experience, not by you educating them.

If you have questions (if you are or know someone that is in an abusive relationship) feel free to reach out to us.

Paul DePompo, PsyD, ABPP is board certified in cognitive behavioral therapy, a diplomate of the academy of cognitive behavioral therapy, and the director of the only Albert Ellis affiliated training center in California.

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