Abusive relationships — what is it, main signs, difference from toxic relationships
Many people dream of a strong and happy relationship that will bring only pleasure. This applies not only to the union between a man and a woman, but also to parents, friends, and so on. A bad scenario is an abusive relationship that brings pain and suffering.
What is an abusive relationship?
These terms mean violence between people, and it can be completely different: on a psychological, emotional, physical level. Abusive relationships are a problem in today’s society. Statistics show that in most cases the victims are women, and the aggressors are relatives. It is worth noting that many people do not even realize that they are in an abusive relationship, as they develop gradually, exacerbating the situation.
Signs of an abusive relationship
At first glance, emotional abuse in a relationship may not be noticeable because it can be well veiled. Understanding what an abusive relationship means will help you recognize it in your life and improve the situation. Psychologists recommend analyzing what is happening from the outside, objectively and without looking for excuses. Perhaps in a relationship there is criticism, insults, humiliation, and much more terrible things.
Abusive relationships with parents
Unfortunately, many children grow up in an unfavorable atmosphere, which negatively affects their character and perception of the world. Abusive relationships in the family can manifest themselves as follows:
- rejection. Parents sometimes do not accept their children as they are, trying to adjust them to their own framework. This manifests itself in constant criticism, the creation of labels, insults, prohibitions, and so on.
- ignore. Abusive relationships with mom and dad often show up as neglect. In most cases, this concerns emotions, that is, they do not sympathize, do not regret, do not support their child.
- Terrorism. This applies to unreasonable and serious punishments, intimidation, threats, mockery. As a result, the child lives in constant fear, anxiety, anger.
- Exploitation. Manipulation and coercion are common signs of abuse. Exploitation can also be attributed to the fact that many parents force older children to look after younger ones.
Abusive relationship with boyfriend
The most common type of abusive relationship is when the victim is a woman. To understand what an abusive relationship with a man is, let’s analyze the main signs of such a union:
- Constant control. Many men consider it normal to limit the freedom of their woman. The partner controls movement, correspondence, indicates what can and cannot be done — these are signals about the presence of a problem.
- Jealousy. Here we are talking about unfounded claims, because a little jealousy is considered the norm. Pathological abusers see betrayal at every turn, for example, in a banal greeting with a neighbor.
- accusations. The abuser prefers to blame his partner for his failures, pouring out all the discontent and negativity on the woman.
- Insults. This is already a clear form of violence that can morally destroy even the strongest person. If a man considers it normal to insult his woman, this not only speaks of his stupidity, but also of disrespect and neglect of his partner.
- Touchiness. The abuser reacts strangely to advice / hints from outside, considering them as comments. This indicates a looseness of the nervous system.
- Mood change. Life with an abuser is like a volcano, because in an instant he can change anger to mercy.
- Threats. This is a sign that simply cannot be overlooked. Sometimes threats become a reality, and a man raises his hand against a woman, considering this some kind of well-deserved punishment.
There are people who do not even suspect that there is an abuser in their close circle. In such a situation, information on how to understand that you have an abusive relationship with friends will help:
- Negative attitude towards former friends. If a person constantly complains and discusses his former environment, then you should think about his sincerity.
- Violation of personal boundaries. Abusers consider it normal to constantly interrupt, ignore opinions, show sarcasm, pull back, and the like.
- Imposing your opinion. If a person is an aggressor, then he can calmly impose his opinion in an order. He tells you what to do, who to be friends with, what to write, and so on.
- Criticism. Abusive relationships include discussions about appearance, in terms of hair, figure, clothing. As a result, it forms complexes.
Abusive relationships at work
A common situation is a negative attitude at work. Many do not know, but this is a form of emotional abuse. The main signs of how to recognize an abusive relationship at work:
- Coercion and psychological pressure from management. Examples include overtime, extra responsibilities, and so on.
- Direct insults and humiliating phrases that can be heard from both the head and the colleague.
- Threats and blackmail, rudeness, rudeness are what people face when collaborating with an abuser.
What is the difference between a toxic relationship and an abusive one?
Many believe that these concepts are interchangeable, since they are similar in their characteristics, so they have negativity, accusations, control, criticism, and so on. The abuser poisons the partner’s life. At the same time, there is one important difference between these concepts — the presence of the Stockholm syndrome in the victim of the abuser. This means one-sided sympathy, a protective-unconscious reaction in relation to the aggressor during the manifestation of violence.
Types of abusive relationships
It is hard to believe that there are many forms of violence, since many focus only on physical impact. To better understand an abusive relationship — what it is, you need to understand its forms:
- Physical violence. It implies the use of force in relation to a person, which causes pain, injury. Physical abuse as a result of aggravation can end in murder.
- emotional abuse. Mental influence involves the use of words, tone, actions to humiliate or harm. This can cause depression, stress, complexes, and so on.
- Verbal abuse. When describing the types of abusive relationships, insults, intimidation, and other verbal bullying cannot be overlooked.
- financial violence. This implies the use of other people’s material resources without the permission of their owner. These include more control, exploitation and causing financial harm.
- spiritual violence. For manipulation, people use spiritual and religious beliefs, such as intimidation by God, religious fanaticism, and so on.
Stages of an abusive relationship
Studies show that violent relationships develop according to a certain scenario, passing through a series of stages:
- Idealization. Describing how this is an abusive relationship, it is worth pointing out that they begin like in a fairy tale: a man puts his victim on a pedestal, makes her feel like a queen. Few people are able to resist such love. Note that the aggressor seeks to quickly develop relationships, declaring love almost on the first date.
- Rising voltage. After a short time, idealization turns into disappointment. The abuser begins to feel unnecessary, he is offended and annoyed. Aggression begins to accumulate in it, which from time to time breaks out. The victim does not understand what is happening and often blames himself for such unpleasant changes.
- Violence. At this stage, the abuser no longer hides his discontent and aggression. Insults, humiliation, assault — become the norm. Often violence is accompanied by reproaches, for example, “you yourself brought me down,” “you provoke,” and so on.
- Reconciliation. The aggressor has a fear that the victim may leave, so he changes his anger to mercy, and tries to make amends using various methods. He gives a promise that this will not happen again, that «the devil has beguiled.»
- calmness. The abuser does everything to supposedly improve the relationship, allowing the victim to believe that everything will be fine, but this is the calm before the storm.
Consequences of an abusive relationship
Prolonged exposure to the aggressor can cause serious problems. The main consequences of abusive relationships for women:
- development of complexes;
- loss of trust in people;
- personality degradation;
- loss of interest in life;
- decrease in self-esteem;
How to get out of an abusive relationship?
Psychologists give some actionable tips on how to deal with an abuser that will help improve your life:
- Don’t look for excuses. Many do not understand why it is difficult to get out of an abusive relationship, and so, often the reason lies in the protection of the offender. It is important to realize and accept that the responsibility lies with the aggressor, not the victim.
- Set your own boundaries. Do not go for provocations and do not enter into conflicts. If you don’t like something, you need to talk about it, because everyone deserves respect.
- Prepare a retreat. To avoid regrets and the desire to return to a relationship, it is recommended to organize escape routes for yourself: find a job, new housing, enlist the support of friends, and so on.
- Put an end. It is better to do this with explanations in order to throw out emotions and talk about your experiences. Getting out of an abusive relationship is essential once and for all.
- Start Recovery. No need to try to grab onto the past, give the relationship another chance, this will only add to the torment. It is better to seek help, for example, friends and relatives, or better, go to a psychologist.
How to recover from an abusive relationship?
It is a difficult task to return to a normal life after being in an abusive relationship. You should start by following these recommendations:
- No contact with a former partner. This applies not only to personal meetings, but also to calls and correspondence. It is worth talking with the environment in order to exclude mention of him from friends and relatives.
- The psychology of an abusive relationship implies the destruction of a person, so you need to get out of the role of a victim. Learn to love and respect yourself again: do what you want, communicate with who you want, dress how you like, and so on.
- Establish relationships with friends and loved ones, since living next to the aggressor is often accompanied by «cutting off» all third-party contacts. Do not be afraid to find new friends and communicate with different people.
- Set your boundaries, because a failed relationship has clearly moved them. Understand for yourself what is acceptable and what is not, where the line of danger lies, and so on.
- Draw the right conclusions so as not to repeat your own mistakes. It is important not to fall into the trap again without noticing the familiar features of the aggressor.
- If it is difficult to figure everything out on your own, and the abusive relationship was very difficult, then it is better to seek help from a psychologist.
How can you help someone in an abusive relationship?
If a loved one is in a dependent relationship and you want to save him, it is important to proceed carefully. The thing is that attempts to «open your eyes» to the truth in most cases are a failure. Experts give such advice:
- It is necessary to express anxiety through the prism of one’s own experiences and feelings. It is important not to use the accusatory position.
- If a person has gone through a relationship with an abuser, then it is worth sharing your own experience, but without focusing on the existing problem. The victim must independently think about what is wrong.
- It is worth speaking not in general, but pointing to specific facts. This will help the victim draw conclusions from the current situation. The right clarifying questions will help to turn in the right direction.
- A willingness to provide support should be expressed when needed. The victim must know that she has someone to call or run to in an emergency.
Books about abusive relationships
There is a lot of literature that allows you to understand the psychology of abusive relationships. The following books can be recommended:
- «On hook. How to Break the Cycle of Unhealthy Relationships A. Dalsen. The author talks about the causes of abuse and gives advice on how to avoid it.
- «Why is he doing this?» L. Bancroft. The book offers useful information in an interesting way about the complexities of dealing with the aggressor.
- «In bed with the enemy» N. Price, D. Grant. A work of fiction that tells the story of a woman who wants to get out of an abusive relationship.
Movies about abusive relationships
Cinema could not lose sight of this complex topic. Films allow you to visually tell, abusive relationships are what they are, how they manifest themselves, what they are expressed in, how you can get out of them and what they can eventually lead to:
- Kill Me Softly, 2001;
- I’ve had enough, 2002;
- Disappeared, 2014;
- Gift, 2015