Not all abusive relationship are what you first think. When you hear abusive, you assume violence to a woman, from her boyfriend or husband. We also would assume the same of an emotional abusive relationship. The truth is any relationship that is destructive can be abusive. It can be a teacher, parent, friend, coworker, employer. These types are often referred to as bullies.
Now most of you who know me or have taken class for me have probably yet to wrap your head around how I could have been in an abusive relationship. Someone tear me down, or talk down to me? Not happening. That’s the thing about these kind of relationships, they are subtle..they creep up. the highs are high and the lows are low. But you cant picture yourself able to function without them in your life.
This was not a romantic relationship, and I was not the only victim. We had a “friend” this friend was so cool, they where very charismatic and seemed to know everyone and everything. They had things in life we thought we wanted and we “knew” if we hung around this friend life would be awesome. They where so much fun to be around. They planned the best trips. We couldn’t wait till the next time we all hung out.–I never experienced any physical violence – although i witnessed many explosive outburst and destruction of property when my friend would get mad at me. There was one occasion that one person in our circle was physically attacked– and yet, we stayed in this relationship, knowing it would “get better”…. I mean the friend did apologize.
I recall the first emotional attack. I recall, because I fought back. I was a strong, confident, confrontational individual who would not take nothing from anyone. This “attack” like most, was public. That day I got toe to toe with my attacker and told them under no circumstances where they ever to speak to me that way again. If they had an issue or concern they could address me privately, and we would determine what needed to happen.
It was many years before my attacker or bully, some might say ever spoke to me that way again. But by then, the smaller attacks over the years had torn me down and destroyed who I had once been.
An emotionally abusive relationship is when someone tears you down, then builds you up, only to tear you down all over again. Its a cycle and when they build you up, they do so well you “forgive” everything else that happened because you are so excited by what they have promised or the compliments they paid etc etc. They have everything you want, life will be perfect, you will be the best of friends. Its a viscous cycle. One you may not even know you are in.
I didn’t have any idea. I thought the problems where all in me. I began to believe what they said. I even began to think I had or had not done things based on what I was told, not what
actually had happened. I was going crazy, It was all in my head, I was a failure. It was at that point, I was on 2 different anti depressant medications and anti anxiety. I also began looking forward to my Friday nights at the local bar for “stress relief” I lost myself, who I was, who I wanted to be in that relationship.
I didn’t see until after I was out of that relationship, I recall the day I realized how much I had changed. I was at a new job, on my team conference call and I didn’t talk, I didn’t say anything. Another manager was sharing a challenge he was having and I knew exactly what he should do, but I said nothing. I called my manager after the call to share what I thought should happen, She asked, why on earth didn’t you share? She gave me a great “pep talk” on not being shy etc. The whole time she was talking I couldn’t understand how on earth she thought I was shy and quiet. It was after she hung up and I sat down that I realized how different I was. That was the day I started rebuilding me. It was much harder then one could imagine and the damage was very deeply rooted .
I wish I could say what would have made me recognize the issue while I was there, so I could get out, but I was so blind. I spoke with one of the other victims the other day, the one who had been physically attacked, neither of us could comprehend why we did not end the relationship that day. Why did we consider that ok?
An abusive relationship, physical or mental, can happen to or with anyone. Sometimes referred to as a bully. Noticing the signs or changes in yourself or a loved one can help you recognize and remove yourself from the destructive cycle.
If you find that you relate, and are in an abusive relationship it is important to get out, be free. Find a trusted friend or family member and share with them what is going on and have them help you end things and make the necessary changes. If you don’t have a friend you trust, you local church pastor will have the resources to help you. If you are unsure of churches in you area, I know you can contact my church at http://www.fellowshipne.com and they will connect you with the best people to find yourself again.