“NOT Damaged By An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?”

by Annie Kaszina on June 10, 2013


“I don’t feel emotionally destroyed or damaged by having an emotionally abusive relationship”  wrote D. this week.

That’s quite exceptional.

An emotionally abusive parttner doesn’t choose you for your sweet self.  He doesn’t think: “I want to be beside this person, to love, nurture, and support her growth.”  He’s looking for someone he can control, and possess.  Someone who will be his creature.  As opposed to her own person.

That’s toxic.

Being around someone like that can only be damaging.

Yes, as abused women we can exercise a truly extraordinary degree of denial. We can tell ourselves:

  • “He’s a wonderful person, really.”  (Really??!!)
  • “He doesn’t mean it.”
  • “He’s been through so much in his life.”

It took me a really long time to realize that going through tough times doesn’t give anyone the right to behave badly towards other people.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

It’s blindingly obvious when it’s actually pointed out to you.  But until then, we can tell ourselves some misguided stories about our emotionally abusive relationships..

I had to hear it from someone who had survived the Holocaust, while most of his family had perished.  He was one of the nicest – and most loving – men I’ve ever met.  When he said that suffering doesn’t give anyone a licence to hurt other people – ever – I got it.

And it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Yes, my wasband – and his parents – had been through very tough times, and for that I feel truly sad.  But it wasn’t my role to heal them.  Nor was it my duty to tolerate their destructive behaviors.

Because their behaviors were very, very hurtful.

And I took their words, and deeds, personally.

That’s what we do, don’t we?

We take what other people say, and the way they behave, personally.

The bottom line is this: we don’t have to ‘take’ other people’s behavior, at all.   If someone tossed you a ball covered with sharp spikes, I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t bother to catch it.  You certainly wouldn’t do that twice.

Yet, when it comes to an emotionally abusive partner, we keep on catching that ball, and lamenting the fact that it hurts us so much…

Feeling damaged or destroyed by an emotionally abusive relationship is a normal and appropriate response.

The important thing to remember is this:

How we feel is NOT who we are. 

People are complex.  We have a lot of different feelings, at different time.  Which only goes to show you are much more than your feeling(s).

You are so much more powerful than your/his negative feelings.

Recognize them for what they are.  And then remind yourself: they are not who you are.

Beneath the damage and apparent destruction of emotional abuse,  there is a wholeness that Mr Nasty can never harm, no matter how hard he tries.

The bottom line is this, you cannot NOT be damaged by an emotionally abusive relationship. But you can heal from that damage – once you stop denying it and remember that you matter.  Isn’t it time you started to matter to yourself more than the people who want to control and damage you?

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