Are you in an abusive relationship?
I have had a calling to start sharing more and more about this topic. And with women reaching out to me regularly in relationships that feel painful and harmful, I am finally releasing this blog three years after I wrote it, and left it unpublished. Please help me get this message out there to help women who are suffering in silence.
* In most written material on abuse, the definitions of victim, abuser, and perpetrator are used- however I have chosen not to use this vocabulary as to not label someone as a victim/abuser. I believe we can all have the capacity and ability to change how we choose to be in this world, with new awareness and motivation to work through it.
I have never written on this topic before, and it is something I feel so strongly about, but have felt hesitant to address in my writing because I like to focus on positive change, and happiness, and inspirational topics, and this topic can be a real downer. But today, I felt so strongly called to write about this, and my deepest hope is that my words will help anyone who may be in a toxic relationship of any kind.
Abuse can come through psychological, emotional, financial, spiritual as well as physical actions.
After a lot of difficulty, deep inner work ,and learning to speak my truth little by little, I can safely say that at this point in my life, that I now have pretty healthy boundaries. I will not tolerate any type of abuse, mistreatment or disrespect in my life from anyone. I now keep my healthy boundaries with me wherever I go. This was not always the case, I have been on my own healing journey for many, many years in regards to teaching others how I want to be treated. I have held a lot of shame and embarrassment because of what I have experienced, and what I put up with in some of my relationships, and writing about it, is just another layer of my armor coming away. I have had to learn how to discern whether I am putting a protective wall up instead of my healthy boundaries in certain situations, as sometimes it can feel similar, but this is part of the process of learning how to stand up for myself, while still having an open heart and staying in a loving place within.
While I have assisted people in my work and personal life going through abusive relationships, I feel ready to speak up about this important topic, because it is how I serve those who are suffering, and need to hear these words. It is how I assist in the healing of others who are experiencing these painful conditions and are in agonizing relationships that are slowly killing their souls.
Most people can recognize when there is physical abuse happening in a relationship, because the one on the receiving end will have outer visible scars and bruises. This is clearly defined, and recognized as abuse in our society, and there is no grey area. Physical battery causing bodily harm to another is abuse, most will agree- no question. Usually (but not always) it is a male energy dominating the female energy, and seeking in gaining ‘power over’ someone weaker or more vulnerable- (here I will refer to the woman) helps the man feel more powerful and in control, when on the inside he is feeling exactly the opposite. Behind every abusive person (male and female), there are underlying feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, feelings of being out of control, and deeply rooted anger, that leaves the person feeling powerless, that usually stem from childhood trauma and unresolved hurts from the past. Physically abusive relationships are not something to be taken lightly. Every year so many women are killed senselessly at the hands of an abusive partner. If you are in an abusive relationship and are being physically harmed, seek professional help now.
Deeper scars the eye can not see
Another, less recognized form of abuse that is not as obvious- in society or by the individuals caught up in it- is emotional and verbal abuse. These forms of abuse are not as black and white as the more obvious form of physical abuse however; emotional and verbal abuse IS still abuse, and goes on in varying levels in many relationships to certain degrees. There is a spectrum in severity when this is occurring in intimate relationships, from mild and tolerable to debilitating and life-altering, for the person on the receiving end.
I want to touch on one important point on this subject. If you are experiencing any type of hurtful treatment from anyone, intimate partner or otherwise, that feels wrong to you, know that you have the right to stand up for yourself and express how their behavior makes you feel. If you do your job in clearly setting your boundaries for how you wish to be treated, and the person refuses to honor and respect them, and you, and continues with the behavior you have asked them to stop, this is abusive behavior. The first time someone does something wrong is a mistake, the second, third, forth is a choice. You do not have to be physically harmed to be abused. In fact emotional and verbal forms can be just as, if not more, harmful psychologically than being hit or physically harmed.
The bottom line is: If it feels wrong, if it feels painful, if it feels harmful and doesn’t feel like love, it is not love. Love is supposed to feel good even when there are difficulties and challenges in every relationship. There should be a strong sense of feeling loved even during rough times. We should feel safe physically, and emotionally with the person, even if we are having a disagreement or differ in our views. There is a sense of security and safety present at all times in healthy relationships, where we feel we can be open and honest no matter what.
Start to notice how you feel in the presence of your spouse or intimate partner. Do you feel a knot in your stomach when you are around them? Do you get headaches in the presence of him? Anxiety, depression or obsessive compulsive behavior? Does it feel like something is just not right that you can’t put your finger on?
TRUST the feeling you get. Notice where you feel it in your body when you are with certain people. The body never lies.
For more reading on signs of emotional abuse, and action steps to take if you think you may be experiencing emotional abuse, please read this informative article. Signs of Emotional Abuse
Take this Quiz to see if emotional abuse is present in your intimate relationship.
The first step in dealing with toxic relationships, is awareness and recognizing when abuse is present. The silence needs to be broken. It is important to seek professional assistance if you are experiencing any type of abuse, having appropriate support from someone who understands, and is informed, about this topic is essential to recovering and healing from the effects.
If you need further support or would like someone to talk to, please contact me for a consultation.
If you are in a crisis situation or feel you are in any danger, contact the RCMP, or your local YMCA-Women’s shelter immediately. There are safe houses available in every city, your local Y will have the contact information to direct you in the right place.
If you would like some deep emotional support to help you get empowered to change this situation you are in, I offer support for women in this situations.
You are not alone.
Yours in health and healing,
Leanne Oaten- Therapeutic Life, Health + Relationship Coach
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*Copyright Leanne Oaten- 2014.