A psychologist in India recently asked me to write about the following: How can a woman, one without access to professional help, take steps towards freeing herself from an emotionally abusive relationship?
As I think about this question, I realize that this was the inspiration for my writing in the first place. I wanted to reach battered women who requested, but could not afford, my professional services.
In my writings over the last three years, I have focused on the psychology of relationship violence. There are a number of important learning steps to freeing yourself from emotional abuse...
1) Recognize that verbal, psychological and emotional abuse are not about you.
The cruel words that your abusive partner freely flings at you and the hurtful emotional manipulations that he plays on you say more about him than they say about you.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the specifics are merely the convenient bullets used effortlessly because of their convenience. For example, if he picks on you because of your weight or puts you down over your intellect, recognize that he grabs for what's in his reach.
He may even batterer you with an innermost vulnerability that you intimately shared with him on an earlier occasion. So, while the words and abusive conduct may be relevant to your life or your experience, be mindful that they are simply used as the darts to throw because they are conveniently within his reach.
2) See the battering assaults for what they are.
Batterers strike for one reason and one reason alone. They seek to transform their own vulnerability into invincibility relative to you.
Battering, whether emotional abuse, verbal abuse or physical abuse, is an attempt to create or maintain unequal distribution of power in an intimate relationship. It is a strategy to consciously, and often unconsciously, exert control.
You probably know that abuse is fundamentally about control. And when an abuser feels he's losing his grip, violence will escalate so as to re-engage control. The way in which you experience this is that his emotional assault will be enhanced in direct proportion to his vulnerability.
So, you must see that the act of being emotionally abusive is his way of reconciling his own perceived impotence. It is not an expression of his power; rather, it is an expression of his own personal vulnerability.
3) Find the YOU behind the assault.
This key is ultimately what gives you the strength to not just merely survive, but to thrive in the face of emotional abuse. And ultimately, it is what allows you to break free from an emotionally abusive relationship.
When you know the YOU within yourself, you refuse to be defined by your partner's emotional assaults. You draw an enduring strength from this knowing that serves to support your higher good.
In my own life, the practice of meditation allowed me to cultivate an alliance with the essence uniting all of us. And from here, I was no longer entrapped by intimate partner abuse.
Breaking Free or Overcoming Emotional Abuse
Now for some women, the ultimate breaking free may entail leaving the relationship and seeking refuge outside of the home shared with their abusive partner. And for others, it may involve inspiring their partner's participation in an appropriate domestic abuse intervention program. This is most likely to happen as a result of the emotional abuse victim engaging in her own psychotherapeutic process.
Be mindful that you--and only you--can know the right path for yourself. There are no right and wrong answers when it comes to domestic abuse. There are only decisions that support your safety and the realization of your highest good.
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship and lack any financial resources for professional help, read from the Internet and from your local library as much as you can about the dynamics of abusive relationships. And in your moment of emergency, reach out to your local community charity agencies that support battered women.