Relationship Counselling for Individuals or Couples in Cardiff and South WalesLiz Hunt BSc, Dip CG, Dip Lch.

Recovery from an Abusive Relationship. Library Image: Depressed Person

The Characteristics of an Abusive Relationship

Controlling behavior - if your partner demands to control who you see, where you go, what you wear.

Inflicting physical pain of any kind, or threats of violence (For instance punching a wall near your head or throwing items at you).

Regular name calling, patronizing, put-downs, or use of abusive language.

Regularly humiliating you socially.

Isolating you from friends and family.

Gas lighting – mental abuse where you are made to feel that your partner’s bad behavior is your fault. (For instance, blaming their infidelity on your lack of attention). Changing the facts of events to suit themselves, or questioning your memory of events which can result in you no longer trusting your own judgment.

Intense jealousy and possessiveness.

Feeling constantly anxious and like you are walking on eggshells, fearing the next explosive row. Being unable to speak your mind for fear of the consequences.

Unstable and unbalanced mood swings that are taken out on you.

Being forced to have sex against your will, or inflicting pain during sex.

Regular extramarital affairs.

Emotional blackmail, for instance, threatening to commit suicide if you say you want to leave the relationship.

Accessing your phone and emails without your permission.

Giving you the silent treatment if they don’t get their own way.

Constant hurtful and shaming criticism.

Extreme negative reaction/anger when criticized.

Inundating you with phone calls and texts throughout the day and night.

Threatening to withdraw their love as a means to control.

Huge acts of kindness following periods of physical or mental abuse, which only serves to continue the cycle of abuse.

Regularly playing the victim to generate sympathy and excuse bad behavior.

Regular grand promises of change following abusive behavior, that is never forthcoming.

Controllers and abusers never take responsibility for their actions. They only look to place the blame on others.

Abusers often ‘love bomb’ at the start of a relationship. They are overly effusive with declarations of undying love and how you are ‘everything they have ever wanted’. The relationship usually progresses particularly quickly.

If you recognise some of the above characteristics, then the chances are that you are in an abusive relationship. Couples counselling is not effective for abusive relationships as abuse is not a relationship problem.
The abuser seeks to control the sessions, and the abused partner is unable to speak their mind for fear of repercussions after the session.
However one to one counselling if you are the abused individual is very powerful. It will allow you to better understand the patterns of abuse and the tools required to find a way out.

When seeking to leave or recover from an abusive relationship knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you will understand and the more confidant you will become.

How to recover from an abusive relationship

I have worked with many people to help them overcome the damage and trauma caused from an abusive relationship. It is important to be very clear that a full and positive recovery is absolutely possible. Research shows that people that do not seek help after being in an abusive relationship are far more likely to enter another one. Knowledge is power. It is when we are able to fully understand and process our negative experiences that we are able to transform them.

I have helped many individuals recover from being in a relationship with a Narcissist. For many people understanding Narcissism is a lightbulb moment that finally enables them to make sense of the emotional abuse they have suffered. Listed below is the characteristic of Narcissistic personality disorder.

Have a sense of entitlement and require excessive admiration.
Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and arrogance.
Driven in the pursuit of success, power and wealth.
Exaggerate achievements and talents.
Belittle people they believe to be inferior
Insist on the best of everything - best car etc.
React with rage and anger at the slightest criticism.
Exploit others without shame, guilt or remorse.
Lack empathy and the ability to identify with the feelings of others.
Happy to take advantage of others to their own ends.
Have no interest in the needs of others, the only thing they understand is their own needs.
Frequently demean, belittle or bully others.
Narcissists have the ability to be very charming when it suits them, especially at the beginning of a relationship, or if you threaten to leave.
Narcissists are not looking for partners, they are looking for obedient admirers.
Narcissists are master manipulators and liars.
Narcissists never take responsibility for their behaviour, they always paint themselves as the 'poor me' victim.
Narcissists regularly use gaslighting in relationships.
Narcissists seek to always win at any cost.
Narcissists need always to be in control.

Leaving a Narcissist is very difficult, but is absolutely possible. I have worked with many, many people who have left abusive partners. I help people to fully process the trauma of a Narcissistic relationship, and please believe that you can and will get through this difficult time. Knowledge is power and arming yourself with as much information as possible about Narcissism is hugely helpful.

Thankfully more and more is understood about this disorder, and the damage Narcissists can cause in relationships. There is a wealth of information online and many powerful books on the topic. Read as much as you can, and surround yourself with the support of your family and friends, whose love will help to carry you through.

Research has shown that if you do not properly process and understand the trauma of a Narcissistic relationship you are more susceptible to going into another abusive relationship. There can be an addictive pattern that is created by the push-pull nature of an abusive relationship that can make them particularly challenging to leave. Understanding how these addictive patterns operate can arm you with the tools to finally break free. Individuals with low self-esteem and strong empathy, can be particularly susceptible to the charms of a Narcissist. Information is key to empowerment, and will instil confidence that the future can and will be happy and healthy.

Never blame yourself, seek only to better understand the relationship patterns of your life. This will arm you with all you need to feel confident that future relationships will be based in mutual love and respect, which is ultimately what we all deserve.

"I came to see Liz after an abusive relationship had left me lost, broken and utterly depleted. She helped me to fully process what had happened to me. She enabled me to believe in myself again. She taught me the relationship skills that have led me to be the happily married woman I am today. I would not hesitate to recommend Liz to anyone suffering the desperation of abuse."

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