Cutting The Ties Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

21 Jun 2010

I’ve worked with many abused women who want to be free of their emotionally abusive partner, or ex-partner, and yet can’t quite let go.   From a logical standpoint it makes no sense at all.  But why should it?

 One abused woman’s words sum up the problem perfectly:

 “What is that part of me that endlessly holds out the hope that he has grown and won’t be a jerk?”

Now, she is not even with her abusive partner any more, nor has she been for quite a while.  Yet the hope persists.

Or, perhaps, more correctly,  she still has the habit of still seeing this abusive man as somehow playing a central role in her life.

Why should it be so hard to cut the ties of an emotionally abusive relationship?

There are lots of possible answers.  It could have to do with not really holding the center of her own world for herself.  Or it could have to do with still according him a power and authority that he never deserved. 

In the end, the only important thing is that, for whatever reason, women who cannot quite let go are still enmeshed.  And, because they are still enmeshed, they still look to their abusive partner to free them.  If he will only stop calling, or doing whatever it is he does to remind her that his hooks still bite into her flesh, then she will be free. But that is exactly what he is unlikely to do. For as long as he can still have his bit of fun tugging on those hooks, he will continue to do so.  It goes with the territory.

When my divorce from my abusive husband finally came through, I wanted closure.  (Prior to that point, I had done at least my fair share of mentally asking him how could he?)  But I had a strong sense that I needed to sever the line of communication – on my side at any rate. I sent him a carefully crafted letter telling him that the connection between us was completely at an end. 

Being really quite astute, as most abusive men are, he sensed that I meant it.  Over the years, he has engaged in a little low level provocation and he has bided his time waiting, and plotting the day when he would…  I’m not even sure what: get his revenge, hit me hard emotionally, or whatever.  As he said to one of our very few mutual friends: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Please understand that I am not suggesting that he has spent all his time plotting my comeuppance; I’m sure he hasn’t.  But it has been a nice idea for him to play with – he doesn’t have a problem with the notion that revenge is a dish best served cold – and the time finally came when he could twist the knife.

What does all this mean in practical terms?

It means that he has been instrumental in creating a rift with someone that I love – it also means that that person has their own share of responsibility also; as do I.

So where am I going with this?

When this rift started I made a conscious decision that I was not going to be drawn back into any of the old stuff, including Poor Me Syndrome. We can ascribe whatever meaning we choose to what happens to us. I chose to believe that there was a gift in the situation, I simply had to find it.

I had a vision of my ex-husband standing with the end of a cord in his hand, jerking it very hard, because he believed that the other end was tied firmly round my throat. 

I don’t have to tell you that the other end was once tied round my throat, in the same way that it may well have been tied around yours.

No way was I going to pick up ‘my’ end of that cord.  That would have been suicide.

You cannot just pick up‘your’ end of that cord, and hope it will stay inert in your hand.  It will coil itself around your throat, or whichever part of your anatomy it was ever attached to – or may still be attached to. 

You have only to touch that cord for it to develop a life of its own – a life that is intent on squeezing the life out of you.

As I write this, I am aware just how dramatic it sounds.  But is it far fetched, or is it accurate? 

And if you feel it is accurate, then isn’t it time you cut the cord in your own life, once and for

Ah but, how to do it? 

CLICK HERE to discover how.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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