Expert Advice on Surviving Abuse
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, Dr. Steven Stosny explains, you have no doubt experienced "honeymoon" periods in the past when, driven by remorse, he seemed to change and everything was fine. The following will help you know that your partner is in the process of permanent change. You will feel that he consistently (every day):
- Values and appreciates you—you are important to him;
- Listens to you;
- Shows compassion—cares how you feel, even when you disagree with him;
- Respects you as an equal and doesn't try to control you or dismiss your opinions;
- Shows affection without always expecting sex;
- Regulates his guilt, shame, anxiety, resentment or anger, without blaming them on you.
Most abusers feel guilt and remorse, at least in the first years of the abuse. Far from encouraging signs, guilt and remorse can actually lead to more abuse, as they:
- Focus his attention on how bad hefeels;
- Make him insist that you "get over it" so he can feel better.
- Focuses attention on how youfeel;
- Makes him want to help you feel better.
- Tells you what to do and punishes you in some way if you don't do it;
- Implies that you're not competent, smart or resourceful enough to do it on your own;
- Makes it clear that your perspective isn't important.
- Helps you find what is best for you to do and stands by you if what you decide doesn't work;
- Respects your competence, intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness;
- Values your opinions, even if he disagrees.