Can An Abusive Relationship Be Fixed
According to the Office of National Statistics, one in five adults aged 16 years and above has experienced domestic abuse in the UK. Due to the prevalence of different kinds of abuse in relationships, one of the common questions people ask is, ‘can an abusive relationship be fixed?’ It’s important to look at different components and aspects of a relationship to answer this question. Let’s take an in-depth look at whether or not you can fix an abusive relationship.
What is Emotional Abuse in a Relationship?
An emotionally abusive relationship is where one person manipulates the other person’s emotions to make them feel humiliated and ashamed. You can describe the relationship as emotionally abusive if one partner has a pattern of engaging in bullying behaviour and making offensive remarks to the extent that it takes a toll on their partner’s mental health and self-esteem. Because they’re constantly subject to such abuse, they may feel inferior around their partner.
Some common signs of emotional abuse include:
- Ignoring your partner’s feelings and insulting them
- Never admitting to being wrong
- Blaming the other person for disagreements or conflicts
- Constantly accusing the other person
- Saying hurtful things about their partner
These signs show that one person dismisses and doesn’t take their partner’s feelings seriously.
What is Physical Abuse?
In most cases, physical abuse starts gradually, with pushing or shoving, but can gradually become more severe. It involves causing any kind of physical harm to your partner. Signs of being in a physically abusive relationship include feeling scared of the abusive partner, not discussing certain topics to avoid angering your partner and feeling like you’re walking on eggshells because they can get angry at any time.
In An Abusive Relationship. What to Do?
As a therapist, I’ve had to mediate issues between partners in abusive relationships, and the first thing to address is safety. Firstly, you need to see if you’re in danger. Are you and or your children at risk of physical harm? If you are, then you should seek safety. This may require you to leave home and live with another family member for a few days. Removing yourself from that environment is the first step if you feel like your physical safety is compromised.
Is it Possible to Fix an Abusive Relationship?
Once you’ve determined that you’re safe, it’s time to consider whether or not you’re willing to make an effort to fix the relationship. I openly ask this question whenever clients approach me with this problem. If your partner is abusive and you’ve decided not to move forward with the relationship, then there’s no changing that. As a certified therapist and coach, my job isn’t to fix something that you’ve already declared is broken. Instead, I can only guide you towards the tools you need to make your own decision.
Can a Violent Relationship be Fixed?
A common misconception among people is that once a relationship reaches a point of violence, there’s no coming back. Of course, when you’re in a situation that compromises your safety, it’s imperative that you remove yourself until the threat to your well-being subsides. However, this notion undermines the tenacity and perseverance of the human mind to cope with challenges.
Yes, abusive relationships can be a difficult experience, but fixing them is entirely dependent on the two individuals. When there’s a willingness to save the relationship, then effort and dedication will follow.
Can a Relationship Survive Domestic Abuse
This depends on the willingness of the two people to look at themselves and feel what they have to feel. ‘Feeling’ is part of the healing process, and without it, you’re simply trying to use cosmetic solutions to fix a deeply-rooted problem. We often try to run away from our feelings, but to save a relationship that has been through abuse, you need to embrace the feelings you’re running away from.
How Does Abuse Occur?
Abuse can take many forms in a relationship. It can be physical, emotional, or verbal, and it happens regardless of cultural background or family income. Therefore, it’s a behaviour that’s slowly learned over time instead of something you simply wake up and experience. But where does abuse come from? Yes, it’s about having control and power, but these are simply characteristics.
Physical and emotional abuse stems from internal discomfort. It’s an outward manifestation of something you’re feeling on the inside. This also applies to issues such as co-dependence and other relationship conflicts.
So when a person is being abusive towards their partner, there’s something going on inside them that they can’t deal with. They become abusive to control the internal experience that’s causing immense discomfort. That’s how abuse manifests – as a coping mechanism. Whenever the person feels triggered by an event (or any other stimuli), their immediate reaction is to show aggression. This could be physical or verbal, but either way, it’s developed to offset whatever’s going on inside of them. Consequently, it’s a learned behaviour that helps them cope, but it’s not acceptable.
Can An Abusive Relationship Make You Abusive?
Sometimes, the person being abusive has grown up around violence and in an abusive environment. As a result, this traumatic experience has a negative effect on the way they think. When they see the abuse affecting their family and community, their mind may turn to different mechanisms to cope with the distress of being in such an environment.
Hence, they become disconnected from themselves, experience psychotic symptoms, or develop other mental health struggles. Similarly, some people may take to substances to deal with that discomfort. Therefore, abuse is a way for them to cope with these experiences. Although abusive experiences can potentially make you abusive as well, it’s a long process. You’ll find that it can take years before abusive responses to situations become hardwired in a person’s brain.
How Can You Overcome an Abusive Relationship?
As a relationship coach, I’m often asked how one can overcome an abusive relationship. The reason why it seems like such an unfathomable concept is that when you’re in such a relationship, both parties start pointing their fingers at each other. Each one is so busy blaming the other that they’re not even taking a minute to reflect on their personal experience and how they feel.
And the reason so few relationships overcome a period of abuse is that both individuals – not just one – are looking inward and facing their feelings. This is very difficult, and I’m not saying everyone should do this, but it’s the only way to transition from an abusive to a functional relationship with your partner.
However, if the two people involved are only willing to point the finger and their story is too deeply ingrained in their minds, they can’t make progress.
Is Relationship Coaching or Therapy Effective?
Whenever someone goes through abuse in a relationship, one of the first responses is to seek the help of a professional. As someone who provides services to couples in abusive, co-dependent, and otherwise dysfunctional relationships, I’ve often seen people approach professionals with certain expectations. Usually, they expect that a therapist will help them talk out their issues or that a relationship coach will give them a schedule of activities to build communication.
But all these things – communicating, talking through conflicts, and spending time together – all these things require motivation on your part. My purpose isn’t to make you do things for the sake of doing them; I don’t adopt the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach.
For me, the aim of therapy and coaching is always to help you build the necessary motivation to engage in things yourself. As the coach, I can only offer guidance to improve your understanding. By strengthening your understanding of yourself and the other person, you’ll do a better job of experiencing and reflecting on your feelings.
What Professional Help Looks Like
Similarly, I’ve noticed that many couples have a preconceived idea of what therapy or coaching will look like. The term ‘therapy’ comes with assumptions that both partners will speak about their issues in a room, while ‘coaching’ implies a dynamic process that’s based on achieving one goal after the other. Because I have credentials in both fields, I know that it can’t always look like this. And it’s for two reasons: the need for a different approach can arise at any time and no relationship issue is clear-cut with a simple solution.
It’s why I use a combination of both methods to formulate a holistic approach. That way, when there’s a need to talk through an issue or provide guidance, the process can flow smoothly.
Know Thyself, Then Know Another
The partners involved must seek individual help for themselves first. During this initial phase, you’re guided towards your internal experience. It’s important for numerous reasons, such as empowering you to have control over your emotions and looking for happiness inside yourself. You’ll start to realise that your happiness and satisfaction were contingent upon what your partner did and didn’t do.
When you’re consistently working on yourself instead of directing all the blame towards the other person, there’s a possibility of saving the relationship. That’s because your focus will no longer be on gaining happiness through your partner – but rather on reflecting the love you have for your partner and having them experience that love.
But even if one person is looking to constantly point fingers at the other and make them the source of their unhappiness, the relationship is no longer about love.
What To Do If You Are An Abusive Partner
As I mentioned previously, abuse is a learned behaviour, so in any dysfunctional relationship, changing the behaviour of an abuser is always going to be difficult. This behaviour can develop because of various factors: traumatic childhood experiences, environmental influence, and much more. When you rely on abuse as a way to cope with uncomfortable thoughts, you’ll need to experience that internal discomfort before you can address your behaviours.
Speaking to a certified therapist can help you reflect on these negative feelings and understand them. By doing so, you’re not only a step closer to saving your relationship. In fact, processing those emotions can take help your mind return to its natural state: calm.
While abusing your partner may give you some sense of immediate gratification, you’ll notice that the internal unease never goes away. Because as long as you repress these feelings and push them deep down, the more likely they’ll affect other aspects of your life. Once you fully realise your experiences and free yourself from these uncomfortable thoughts, you’ll feel the motivation to make a change.
- You’ll identify instances where you were hurtful and abusive
- You’ll acknowledge where you tried to blame your partner for your behaviour
- You’ll accept and apologise for the excuses you made
- You’ll make a commitment to work on your emotions
Many abusive partners assume that seeing a relationship coach or therapist will automatically help them become well-adjusted individuals with healthy coping mechanisms, but this is inaccurate. Relationship coaching can’t force you to change, and neither can your partner. Rather, it allows you to work on your internal conflicts in a way that they no longer affect your experiences.
Abuse is painful and traumatic, and it completely warps our perception of love. But that doesn’t mean your relationship has failed. You can still fix your relationship, but it all comes down to your willingness to do so. Without the commitment and dedication of both partners, overcoming abuse is difficult. To move towards a functional relationship where both partners feel valued yet don’t rely on each other for validation, you need to start by looking inwards. With help from a certified therapist and relationship coach, you’ll learn to work through internal conflict, creating a better understanding of yourself and your partner.