- Dr. Love in the Media
Lady That's Being Verbally Abused
November 2, 1998 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Dear Dr Love:
I do hope that you will answer to my e-mail as i have been struggling with this relationship problem of mine for almost a year. I have sought the help of professionals, people like therapistis and counsellors but to no avail. Most of them do not really seem to understand what i am trying to say / express and offer fixed methods of advice.
I have a boyfriend of 2 years who have been rather abusive both verbally and emotionally. He would flare up at the smallest things and hurl vulgarities at me. As a result, i often doubt whether he really loves me or not. This prompted me to ask him whether if he really loves me after every quarrel. and his reply ? more verbal abuse!
I have tried calming him down by talking to him nicely, by leaving him alone for a short period of time and by bringing him to see counsellors, but all these do not seem to help.
In the meantime, i am feeling rather depressed, hurt and angry with myself for loving a guy who constantly brings me out for a
' rollercoaster' ride : that is, his way of care or being nice is only dependent upon his mood.
I can't seem to trust him now. His work comes into frequent contact with attractive females and furthermore, he has above average looks with a'charming personality' in public.
I am really breaking apart as i feel the inner tourment within myself whenever i see him, loving him yet not quite loving him.
PLEASE ADVISE and your help is very much appreciated.
The reason why you haven't gotten anywhere with your previous therapy attempts is two-fold. The focus of therapy was to 'fix' your abusive partner, and no one was helping you to focus on you. And, you need to focus on you, not on him.
First of all, read the first question in this week's advice column, in which I speak about repetition compulsion. Then, read my Advice Archives articles, also on repetition compulsion. You are locked in a vicious repetition compulsion. How do I know?
I am quite certain that you have chosen a man that verbally abuses you in the unconscious hope of healing an earlier relationship in which you were abused. You need to know that: 1) We are all creatures of habit and if we were abused as children, we find partners that abuse us as adults; 2) We choose partners that recreate our childhood trauma in the unconscious hope to heal that original trauma (repetition compulsion); 3) Our repetitions never work because our partners are damaged the way our parents were, hence they can't provide us with the healing that we need; 4) We can't let go of the abusive partner (or the partner that recreates any other trauma we suffered as kids), because our unconscious minds believe that if we can finally coerce our partners into giving us the emotional goodies that we lacked as kids, then our original wounds will feel healed.
And this is where you find yourself. You can't let go of this abuser, because you can't stop trying to get your happy ending to the original wound. So, you suck up to your partNer, placate him, try to be good, try harder, even take him to therapy. But, he's not going to be healed--he doesn't want to change. It feels too good to be an abuser for him to ever want to stop.
The only person that can change is you. You have to face the fact that he never will. And, the kinder you are to him, the more he knows that he's got you--you're addicted to him and to the struggle of trying to get your abusive parent(s) to come around.
In addition to accepting what your struggle is really about, you need to join a support group for battered spouses (yes you are being battered) right now. Inside my chat membership, there are also various support groups. Or you can attend one in your area.
I am not going to tell you to set limits, or put your foot down with him. First you need to heal and grow. When you feel entitled to better treatment, you will put your foot down naturally. And, then, when he sees that you have truly changed on the inside, and that you are able and willing to live with out him, then and only then may he change. In other words, you need to find your personal power first, before you can set any limits. Otherwise, he won't take you seriously.
You need to be in a supportive therapeutic environment to get this job done.
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