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FACT: It’s not Love without the Vital Three: to be Seen, Known, and Accepted Unconditionally.

What is an Abuser?

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Abusers are tricky little devils. No pun intended. They see you as a commodity to use, and know you as a scientist studies a rat, but their affection is false.

You are actually of great value to them, because they believe they own you. You are seen and valued in order to prop them up, and make them feel powerful.

You are known and studied in order to be controlled. Abusers are malicious and often will stop at nothing to stay in control of you.

Abuser Relationships are toxic and dangerous. Expert support is needed to become safe and ultimately free of their abuse.

You are seen, known, and maliciously controlled.

Characteristics of an Abuser

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Narcissistic: You, the children, and the world revolve around the Abuser and his needs. The Abuser feels powerful and elated when people walk on eggshells around him

Jealous and Possessive: He may accuse you of constantly flirting or being secretively attracted to other men. “I saw the way you looked at him; don’t try to deny that you have a thing for him. You’re lying!”

Disarming: The Abuser can be so charming, flattering, or charismatic that people are often distracted from seeing his alarming character flaws

Moody: The Abuser can appear happy and gregarious one minute, and then suddenly triggered to hot rage or cold aloofness the next. His moods are unstable, unpredictable, and easily frustrated

Isolating: The Abuser may complain about close friends or family to the point of forbidding you from seeing them, saying, “Your family are troublemakers, always getting in our business. I don’t want you going over there anymore.”

Controlling: Using manipulation, guilt, coercion, and threats, the Abuser will control your finances, your time with friends, your job, your family, and your comings and goings. His controlling nature is cleverly disguised as concern and protection for you

Critical: The Abuser regularly criticizes others’ appearance, ability, economic status, or morality to make himself appear in a superior light

Disrespectful: Not sparing his own family, the Abuser will say disrespectful, inappropriate, and degrading things to and about people close to him

Duplicitous: The Abuser acts kindhearted and caring in public or when others are watching, and then intimidating and angry behind closed doors

Superior: Not believing that you are his equal, the Abuser expects you to carry out his orders, meet his every need, and behave perfectly according to his ever-changing standards. Believing you are inferior in looks, strength, intelligence, and ability, his way is always right

Disingenuous: He may say that he won’t behave abusively again, but he makes no significant or meaningful effort to change, seek help, or treat you differently.

Cruel: Inflicting harm to others through words or deeds energizes the Abuser and makes him feel powerful. This insatiable need for power trumps any sense of morality, guilt, or conscience.

You may wrongly believe that you deserve nothing better than his abuse; that you somehow earned it and must take care of it. You may believe that it’s your job to help him, fix him, and protect him.

No matter how you’ve been treated in your past, or what degrading childhood traumas informed your sense of self, you deserve love. You deserve respect. You are worthy of being seen, known, and unconditionally accepted.

How it Feels to be in a Relationship with an Abuser

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Women in abusive relationships feel…

Hypervigilant: You may feel an increased responsiveness to stimuli (knock at the door, car braking, sound of his car in the driveway). You tend to automatically scan your environment for threats

On high alert to his moods: You read your partner’s facial expressions, vocal tones, and body language for hints at his mood in case you are required to deflect, intervene, appease, or escape

Preoccupied with his happiness: Even when your partner is away, you are constantly thinking of ways to make him happy or to ease his pain. You desperately want him to be pleased with you, your cooking, your housecleaning, your child raising, etc., and feel responsible for his negative feelings about these things

Sad: No matter what you do, it never seems like he is pleased with you.

Confused: You find it difficult to be sure what is true about your partner. You wonder which of his incongruent behaviors you can trust—the nice side or the mean side? The caring side or the cruel side?

Lost sense of self: You become so preoccupied with your partner’s life, moods, and behaviors, you stop thinking about yourself and your own needs

Controlled: Either by actions, threats of action, or oppressive dominance, you feel trapped, smothered, and suffocated

Eventual Emotional Detachment: Once oppressiveness takes its toll, your feelings for your partner grow cold. You may feel numb, like a half-dead person just trying to exist. You detach emotionally from your partner because the hot/cold/repeat cycle has worn you thin. You no longer love him; you just don’t know how to leave him

Conflicted and Afraid: You constantly weigh the pros and cons of whether to leave or stay. You are afraid that his abuse will worsen if you distance yourself from him

Emotional and Mental Problems: Women with abusive partners often suffer symptoms related to depression, anxiety, panic and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These are diagnosable illnesses that can be successfully treated with proper intervention.

What to Do and Who to Call

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Domestic violence advocates understand that being in an abusive relationship is hard and that leaving can be dangerous. There are many resources that offer help to women in abusive relationships.

When you feel the time is right, you can call 1.800.33.HAVEN (1.800.334.2836) to talk to a domestic violence advocate about how you are feeling and what you need to stay safe. You do not have to face the violence of your Abuser alone. You can also visit www.stoprelationshipabuse.org for steps to leaving an abusive relationship. Or, the Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org. You can also call 1-800-799-7233 for to speak with someone about your unique situation and to help you decide your next step.

Marriage counseling should not be attempted where abuse is present. Your Abuser must first admit that he needs help, and enter into a treatment program that specializes in treating men who abuse their partners. There must be significant, time-tested transformation and trust before engaging in marriage counseling. Getting individual counseling support and treatment is necessary for your own healing and recovery.

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