Am I Being Abused in My Love Relationship?

Unfortunately, too many people are being “abused” in one way or another in love relationships. My purpose in writing this article is to give you a simple and effective understanding you can use to determine if you are one of them and what to do about it.

First and foremost, let’s admit that there is going to be “hurt” in a love relationship. Two expect to be in one, and never feel hurt is unrealistic. “Normal” hurts are usually “unintentional.” That means they occur because two people in a relationship have differences of opinion, disagree, wants different things, have difficulty compromising, etc. Basically, working it out with someone you love we can consider the “work” involved in being in a  love relationship. Plus, if you possess the ability to apologize, learn from your mistakes, and ultimately compromise with the person you are in love with, being in love will be a helluva a lot easier.

If hurt is “intentional,” simply put, you’re being abused. Now, let’s consider the different types of abuse that can occur. Physical abuse would probably be the easiest to identify. If you’re being pushed, pulled, slapped, punched, beaten, etc. you are being physically abused. Besides the actual physical pain, subjecting ourselves to chronic physical abuse injures the psyche as well. Self-esteem and other psychological functions always take a hit when a love relationship is physically abusive.

Next there is verbal abuse. This is when words are being used violently against another person. Cursing at someone, calling them names, chronic criticisms, putdowns, and blaming are common examples. Remember, words can injure and damage as well as physical violence can. Moving on to the next category, there is emotional abuse. This happens when emotions are being used violently on or in another person. Intimidation, creating guilt, creating fear, harassing someone, making someone feel bad about themselves, are common examples. Living in a relationship that is emotionally abusive will wear a person down, often to the point of depression, chronic anxiety, or both.

Last but not least, there is financial abuse. When you’re being financially abused, someone is using you for your money, and in most cases, they have their own money. They simply want to get yours as well. Unfortunately, financial abuse can take place in any relationship, however, it commonly shows up in family or love relationships where one person wants the other to take care of her or him, even though he or she is quite capable of taking care of themselves.

Once you get past the denial of abuse which is a disbelief that you could be a victim of abuse, it is now possible to figure out how and why you got into such an abusive situation in the first place. Commonly, growing up in an abused family it usually the reason a person “tolerates” chronic abuse in adulthood. To tolerate abuse usually is a sign that denial of abuse is alive and well in your love life. If a person doesn’t grow up in an abusive family situation and finds him or herself in an abusive adult love relationship, it usually ends quickly once the abuse starts and is recognized. It’s easier to leave an abusive relationship when abuse is not familiar.

Now, let’s consider the cure for being a victim of abuse in a love relationship. Of course, getting past the denial so you can be honest with yourself, is always the first step. Strengthening your ability to set limits on abuse in any way you can (e.g. calling the police, threatened separation, leaving the relationship) is important. Ultimately, leaving a love relationship that is chronically abusive is the only way to get healthy again, or for the very first time in your life.

Lastly, let’s consider the personality of the abusive person. There is no question that an abusive person is hurt, problem is they are not focused on healing their hurt, just creating hurt in someone else. This is called a defense mechanism and unfortunately a lot of hurt people practice it. One big problem is, you can’t heal hurt when you’re focused on hurting others when you’re hurt. One thing I’ve learned about abusive people in treatment is, if they can be honest with themselves and admit to themselves that they were hurt, they’ll have memories of being hurt earlier in their lives. It’s a great moment to witness this change in a therapy relationship. Because hurt, violent people, once they remember they’re own hurt, can begin to heal their hurt, while having a harder time continuing to hurt others.

Dr. Thomas Jordan/Comments are Welcome

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.