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-   -   Can an abusive relationship heal? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8759)

BlackUnicorn 04-14-2011 09:25 AM

Can an abusive relationship heal?
 
I debated for a long time where to post this, so mods, feel free to move this if another section strikes you as more appropriate.

So I am basically asking if anyone has experience with a relationship that has had a history of abuse and is no longer abusive? If so, what made you stick? I have struggled for years, am on medication, tried therapy but never got to speak of the real issues, but just last night after another tirade of verbal/emotional abuse via phone realized that as long as the other party is not willing to acknowledge what they do as abusive and willing to seek help, I can't really hope that anything will ever change.

I have tried to read on this non-violent communication stuff, has anyone experience with using that in this or similar contexts? Right now I've decided to distance myself a bit for emotional health reasons, but I do see it will not help things improve.

Am I just kidding myself in thinking that I can somehow break a decade-long pattern of abusive communication? I feel so much compassion for this person because they are so hurt and angry, and the last thing I want to do is to abandon them.

Mohegan 04-14-2011 10:17 AM

I don't have much experience in abusive relationships turning out well. But I do believe anyone can change. But you said it best-they have to acknowledge that what they are doing is abusive, and be willing to seek help and do the work to change.

For now, if they are not willing to do this, it's best you keep your distance and not keep running yourself through this. I understand, believe me maybe all to well, the desire and need to be there for someone who needs you, regardless of that effect on you. But you HAVE to take care of yourself. You can only give so many suggestions and discuss what they are doing to you, so often, before you just have to cut ties.

BlackUnicorn 04-14-2011 10:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mohegan (Post 76203)
But you HAVE to take care of yourself. You can only give so many suggestions and discuss what they are doing to you, so often, before you just have to cut ties.

Thank you for your words, Mohegan. It feels good to know I am not the only one whose struggled with the 'just dumb that jerk' -advice.

I find that by cutting off ties I only hurt myself more. That's why I nowadays just prefer to 'take a little break'. I am physically safe and can turn off the phone when I really am not in the mood for listening to rants. I think this change of paradigm from 'we (I) can fix this' to 'it is what it is, I made my choices years ago and now it's just a question of management' that I am experiencing.

Somewhat sad, actually.

Tracey 04-14-2011 12:02 PM

First, I agree wholeheartedly with Mohegan -- you must take care of YOU, because in the end, no one else will. Be sure to put YOU first, at least for awhile.

It appears you've got two dynamics going on: (1) verbal/emotional abuse, and (2) a deeply ingrained, well-developed script. I hold out hope that people can change their behaviors, if the choose to do so. What's really tough to battle is that script. If this has been going on for 10 years, the two of you have a shared pattern of behaviors/responses -- your script -- that you both need to work on together. Your partner says/does something, a trigger, and you KNOW you're about to get blasted. You, in turn, react in some way that causes a trigger for your partner to activate, and before you both know it you're down some ugly path that neither of you can seem to step away from until it's run its course.

I was in a relationship for 29 years that did this very thing. I tried to get my husband to work with me on this, but in his view, there was nothing wrong with him and I was the one who needed help. When I finally left, he lamented to all who would listen that I never gave him a chance. Well, yes I did, and multiple times. But that chance was predicated on his accepting his role and responsibility in this mess, which he refused to do. I couldn't allow myself to be belittled and emotionally battered any longer -- I did what I needed to do to preserve my health, and I left. To this day (5 years later) he still doesn't get it, but it's not my problem. And that is a liberating thought!

When you can, when you're healthier and stronger, do try to step back a bit and look at your dynamic with a critical eye. While you feel compassion toward your partner, what about compassion for yourself? Do the two of you share an unhealthy script that needs to be rewritten? And are you both willing and able to revise that script? If one of you is not, is it time to put the script on the shelf and go in another direction in the writing of your life?

Sending you warmth and white light.....

Tracey

NeonKaos 04-14-2011 02:30 PM

it was moved to the Fireplace because it's not a topic that is specific to poly relationships. abuse and/or healing can happen in any type of relationship.

Carry on folks...

Carma 04-14-2011 02:52 PM

There are times when certain people in my life are simply too emotionally expensive for me. I can't afford to deal with them. When I'm feeling stronger, I can.

It's ok to take protective measures to keep your sanity. You don't have to swirl, just because someone else is.

BlackUnicorn 04-14-2011 07:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tracey (Post 76213)
It appears you've got two dynamics going on: (1) verbal/emotional abuse, and (2) a deeply ingrained, well-developed script. I hold out hope that people can change their behaviors, if the choose to do so. What's really tough to battle is that script. If this has been going on for 10 years, the two of you have a shared pattern of behaviors/responses -- your script -- that you both need to work on together. Your partner says/does something, a trigger, and you KNOW you're about to get blasted. You, in turn, react in some way that causes a trigger for your partner to activate, and before you both know it you're down some ugly path that neither of you can seem to step away from until it's run its course.

Yep, I can totally see this. The relationship has been physically violent before and is no longer, so maybe that is why I'm holding out hope for improvement on the emotional level as well? Right now I am a bit pessimistic, though.

Thank you for your kind and insightful words, Tracey!

Quote:

Originally Posted by NeonKaos (Post 76243)
it was moved to the Fireplace because it's not a topic that is specific to poly relationships.

Thanks!

ray 04-14-2011 10:42 PM

This is a topic that's been on my mind as well. When to stay and work it out versus creating space so that you can take care of yourself. And how much space? Is it temporary or permanent?

I have a pattern of getting myself into relationships/friendships that are some what emotionally unhealthy/sometimes abusive. I'm at the point where I am asking what do I need to be doing so I don't keep ending up in this situation. Therapy is helping with that, I guess.

In my currently situation, I'm feeling like no matter what I say or will say, he's still going to perceive that he's done little wrong. How can I be close to some one who can't even acknowledge deeply hurting someone and treating them cruelly? On the other hand, it pains me greatly to think that I will need to attend things that he is present and will ignore him or be distant. And I still feel vulnerable to manipulation.

I hope that in the future he and I can have a better understanding but I honestly don't have much hope for him to change. Some people don't want to change because it's difficult, or worse, they believe they're wonderful and don't need to change.

I guess that if some one decides to be a 'lost cause,' there's not much point in letting yourself become one too. So easy to say but so hard to do... Sigh...

opalescent 04-15-2011 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn (Post 76274)
The relationship has been physically violent before and is no longer, so maybe that is why I'm holding out hope for improvement on the emotional level as well?

I'm glad the relationship has moved away from physical violence. How did that happen? Did he realize he had a problem and addressed it or did you insist he change?

I'm also curious - why do you feel it would not be a good idea to cut ties and move on?

I ask because the quote above strikes me as worrisome. I've spoken to people who have left abusive relationships and many times they say it was the mental, emotional abuse that left the longest lasting, most profound damage. Please be very, very careful with your mind and your emotions. These are precious and fragile and you deserve someone who treats them with the utmost respect and love.

Morningglory629 04-15-2011 01:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carma (Post 76247)
It's ok to take protective measures to keep your sanity. You don't have to swirl, just because someone else is.

Good suggestions here.

Of course people can change. But that means everyone in that abusive dynamic needs to change. What's the goal? Healthy relationship, right?! There are two people contributing to the dysfunctional behavior patterns.

Get help for you and the rest will happen.

Best of luck BU. You are not alone in dealing with a loved one that needs help with anger or communication problems. We all have in some sense had to deal with it.;)


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