If the warning signs are there, act quickly either to set limits or to get out of the relationship. Don't adopt a 'wait and see' attitude. The more deeply you become involved with an abuser, the harder it is to get out. You may start to feel the treatment is justified. He has more time to hurt you emotionally and it becomes very difficult to reverse this feeling. If you don't have a job, you become increasingly tied to him economically. You begin to fear a future without him and he will even convince you of that.
The more time he has to win to family and friends to his side, the less support they will give you when you are trying to go through the difficult process of ending the relationship. However, you can still break free and recover your rights even if your abusive relationship has gone on for five years or more. It is never too late to set yourself free
Sit him down as soon as you can and make it plain to him which behaviors and attitudes you will not accept. Warn him that you cannot be in a relationship with him if this kind of abuse continues. It's best to be well prepared. Have worked out what does and does not work for you and what you'll do for finance if you have to leave the relationship. If you have to threaten to leave him, he'll make a lot of false promises or statements to keep you at his side.
He may use some or all of these tactics, and sometimes in contradiction to one another:
- Promises to enter an abuser program
- Apologizes profusely
- Tells you that you won't be able to live without him
- Says that no one else will want to be with you
- Threatens suicide
- Makes you feel guilty
- Vows to leave you destitute
- Suddenly becomes nice
- Gets others to pressure you
- Asks for a second chance
- Denies being abusive
- Claims you are the abusive one
- Tries to play victim
- Tries to turn others against you
- Suddenly starts sorting out things you've been complaining about 'forever'
- Says you can go out with friends after isolating you
- Behaves in self destructive ways to gain your sympathy
- Gets you pregnant
- Threatens to harm or kill you
When identifying the worst abuses, it is highly beneficial to get help from support groups, friends and professional counselors. But ultimately the decision as to what you will and won't accept will be entirely your. Only when you ask for change will you know whether or not you and your partner have a chance for a healthy relationship. An important point to note when setting limits is that you can't use a threatening voice. It will be seen as manipulation in reverse. Avoid saying, for example: "If you don't change your behavior, I'm going to..." Instead, set your limit by stating simply and emphatically: "I will not accept.." Since it is a mutually beneficial relationship you want, ask your partner for his input so you can reach a compromise. You need to make plans together for the future and decide jointly on finances and so on. A good relationship is based on mutual understanding and respect. If your partner can't or won't change, it's probably time to split up. Speak to him frankly and ask for his cooperation. Restate your limits and tell him that you will leave him immediately if he overrides them. He will change if your strong response has an impact on him, but some won't.
If his behavior continues or even steps up a notch, because he hates having to relinquish control, force a separation for some time with absolutely no contact so that he knows you mean business. Be aware that he may not change. There is little motivation for him to do so. Furthermore, if he continues to deny the abuse, he's not going to change.
If you prevaricate and don't have an action plan while his remorse is still strong, it fades and he learns more manipulative and crafty ways of keeping you by his side. He might develop what he considers to be a more benevolent type of abuse which is not much different to what went on before.
Once you've talked over your problems, you'll know you are getting somewhere with him if he doesn't resort to the usual guilt trip, blame game or acts of indifference. He listens to you closely, without interrupting or making excuses and he takes full responsibility for his actions. He makes amends for his actions by, for example, admitting to the errors of his ways to friends and family and apologizes to the children for unacceptable behavior he perpetrated in front of them and then blamed all on you. He also makes an undertaking to immediately and unreservedly change his behavior and seek help without undue pressure from you. You should look for long term results of these things.
An important thing to remember is that if you do not have children with your abusive partner, keep it that way. He won't change his behavior with the coming of a baby. He will still be jealous, possessive, demanding and manipulative and may even deeply resent the time you give to the baby. Your life will be more stressful than before because now you have the added worry of the effect his behavior will have on your baby in the long and short term.
And if you decide later that you do want to leave him, there's the prospect of a grindingly long custody battle.
The process of dealing with abuse involves recovering the self-esteem you lost during the time of the abuse. It means you have to stay in the present so you can immediately spot the opportunities for reclaiming your rights as soon as they are violated. Whereas in the past you would have simply sat still and taken the abuse , too stunned and humiliated to respond, and if you did, ended up more humiliated than when you didn't.
achieves results. By doing so, you are defining your own reality. And when you separate your reality from your partner's you are re-establishing your self-esteem and your autonomy. You should feel good about yourself.
You can stop a lot of verbal abuse in it's tracks by simply stating: "Stop it!" This will indicate to your partner that you mean what you say and won't tolerate abuse. Also, don't invite arguments by saying, "Why did you say that?" , "What I meant was.." If you do so, you are showing him that there is some truth to what he's saying and you are leaving the door open for a comeback.
If he is prone to giving you "the silent treatment" wherever you are, and you get only monosyllables when you talk to him or infuriating replies such as: "What so you want me to say?", "There's nothing to talk about,", "What are you complaining about? I do talk to You." Leave his presence, you do not have to endure this kind of behavior. Go and do something that makes you happy and he will respond soon enough because he will not like to be "ignored."
In general you will know within two months if he has changed because during that time he will have stopped the abuse or notched it up. For progress a lot depends on his feelings for you. If he cares about you deeply and welcomes the idea of a healthy relationship, results may be evident in the first week. Sometimes he may care a lot about you, welcome the idea of a healthy relationship but still have deeper issues that prevent him from even admitting his problems or changing.
If your partner's violence is physical or involves kicking and punching things, consider legal protection because it can escalate and become very dangerous. In many states, for example, you can seek a restraining order even if your partner is not guilty of sexual or physical assault, as long as he has put you in fear. In some other states, a woman can obtain an order that allows the man to continue residing in the home providing he doesn't resort towards behaving in a threatening manner.
Get professional help from a counselor experienced in issues of abusive relationships and whom you can relate to. Get referrals from friends and therapists, Help is available to you throughout therapy and support programs, no matter your situation. Many have found help through the http://www.verbalabuse.com/ site. If your mate does not suggest accompanying you, ask him to do so. Tell him you do not want to go on your own because you want a mutually beneficial relationship.
Choose a couple of counseling programs that are going to achieve results. Do not accept any excuses, they only mean he does not want to change. With health care now being mandatory, most counseling sessions are merely the cost of a co-pay. Many Councillors in such programs appear to want to apportion equal blame to both persons. That's why a lot of women don't trust them. It is not always easy to know for sure you have to leave the man you love, or to also look in the mirror and see your own faults. However, without help, the problem can't be properly identified and workable solutions found. Be aware and be ready to leave an abusive situation if you see absolutely no improvement.
But also be ready to face your own faults and imperfections. It takes two to makes a relationship run smoothly. And you both need to be willing to work on the things that needs it. However,abuse is serious and the need to correct it is non negotiable for a healthy relationship.