She was beautiful, personality out of this world, owned her own beach condo, held a doctorate degree, was a college instructor, and worked in the psychological field. She was killed by her boyfriend in a murder suicide a couple of blocks from my office. There was a period of time where I believe the general society associated abusive relationships with lower functioning couples (addictions, legal issues, financial challenges, lack of employment, etc.) Recent news is highlighting the fact that abuse does not discriminate among socioeconomic status, culture, or religion.
If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will hop out immediately and survive. If you put a frog in a pot of cold water and crank the heat up, it will not notice the slow gradual rise of heat and die.
Most of us have been guilty at some point in our life of staying in a relationship longer than we should have. Despite our level of intelligence, our hearts want to believe that our partner is the person we want them to be. In an abusive relationship, this scenario is amplified times ten. It is crucial that our society begins to understand that if we put down women in an abusive relationship we will only contribute to the deterioration of their self-worth that is already being targeted in the abuse. If you can recall a time in your life when you stayed longer than you should have, reflect on what was helpful in preparing you to make the decision to leave. What was likely NOT helpful was a friend telling you that you were “stupid” for dating this individual or bashing the guy you were dating. This type of response likely caused you to believe your friend did not understand your relationship and pushed you away.
What we know is helpful in assisting victims to leave an abusive relationship are:
*Building up the victims’ confidence.
*Showing empathy for personal thoughts and feelings.
*Validating the victims’ self-worth.
*Being supportive, not demanding or enabling.
*Encouraging and providing resources for safety.
If you know of someone that is currently in an abusive relationship (emotionally or physically), you may not be able to understand exactly what they are experiencing. Yet, I encourage you to use your personal experiences to assist you in being able to relate to the best of your ability. The cycle of abuse is very complex muddied with love and fear and can victimize even the most noble of women!
Note: Pamper Your Mind is a practice specialized in the mental health of professional women. While this article addresses abuse of a female, it is important to remember that victims are not always female. There is a significant and often over looked abuse of males in a relationships that is in need of ongoing support as well.
Written By: Kristin Woodling, LMHC