Breaking the Pattern in an Abusive Relationship

Abusive relationships can happen to, poor, educated, women and yes also men.

I spent nearly 9 years in an abusive relationship. Towards the end of it all (when someone finally found out it was happening) somebody said to me, "Why don't you leave?" and my answer was, "Where am I gonna go?".

It's amazing when you're in that situation how much of a deep hole you think you're in. That there's nowhere to go and no-one to help. And that you're a weak weak person.

But thats not true and there's always someone who can help - you've just gotta reach out. However, having said that - there's a special kind of fear that stops you from doing that. Even when you've got a supportive family and some great friends - often nobody knows for years. And it's the same fear that often drives people back to the abuser - even if they do leave.

Everybody has a picture in their heads of their future and when you consider leaving the abuser - that picture of your future is completely blank and it's the most paralyzing thing in all the world - right next to the whole thing about what happens to you after death (not that that one bothers me anymore). It feels like there's nothing there but a blacker hole than the one you're in. And the bad place you're at least the devil you know. To make it all that much harder to break away from, an abuser spends a great deal of energy from the start making sure you believe that they're all you've got and all you've ever have.

So how the hell does anyone ever get out of it?

You've gotta start by remembering your dreams and what you liked to do before you met this person. You were a living, breathing, dreaming human being before you met them - what makes you think you're not now? And where did you decide that you weren't entitled to be happy? That's a core belief that it's time to throw out. It doesn't serve you or anybody you love.

You've also got to acknowledge that we teach people how to treat us but at the same time we MUST realise that we deal with EVERY situation with whatever emotional tools we have at the time. Everybody does the best they can with what they have to work with - and that's half the trick to beating this - go find some other tools. That's why counselling can be so good because it gives you other 'tools' to work with - different ways to deal with things.

When you do go for counselling if you can, make sure you're talking to somebody who you can connect with. Someone who you feel is 'hearing' you (listening is not quite the same). If you don't connect with your counsellor - get another one and keep trying till you do. Don't struggle through it - that's an old habit you're GOT to change - you HAVE to connect with your counsellor. And if counselling is not available to you - use the help lines - talk to friends.

So've sat down and freaked out and you're sitting there saying to yourself.......what the hell am I going to do - as if life was done and there is no more.

Here is what you're gonna do.....rebuild your picture of your future - it can be anything so long as its attainable by you and your abuser is NOT in it. My picture was owning my own restaurant - I was standing in the kitchen doorway, wiping my hands on a teatowel, watching people move between the tables. I've yet to manage it  but that doesn't matter - it was building that picture that saved my sanity and got me out of thinking that my current reality was the only place I could be. Instead I flipped out a bit, got a tattoo and went to art school instead - but hey! lol

You start with....."I always wanted to......"

Then you build a plan - like building blocks. And you start with where you've got to be to start your new life and you leave. Stop kidding yourself on how the partner's going to change because by the time they manage it (if they ever do) you'll probably be dead cos that's where that game ends up. Choose life.

Now I was lucky.....I was able to call my parents and move in with them for a wee while even tho it wasn't the best of options (a bit like jumping from one frypan to an older one) - but it was a start away from where I was and I am still very, very grateful for them - especially since they actually drove from Wanganui to Auckland to collect me. So....I quit my job, took what I could carry and moved to a city 300 km away. Don't be afraid to start again. Make like a hermit crab - if you're gonna have room to grow - you're gonna have to change your shell.

Now if there's no family you can go to, then there's almost always a mate or friend. And don't forget shelters. Not the best but its just a stepping stone to a better life - that's all it ever has to be.

If you build that new future in your head.....and you dedicate yourself to giving yourself the life you deserve (which is a happy enriching life ---- no really it is!)'ll make it.

I know you will.

Good luck - know that you are precious.
Look at beautiful things and be happy.

Incidentally 12 years later.......I'm blissfully married to my soul mate (who I met at art school) and we have a beautiful little daughter whom I thought would never ever happen and plenty of wonderful friends that the ex said I would never have! So there! .