The silent abuse – leaving an abusive marriage

Bringing awareness to the harms of the abuse many accept as ‘normal’.

The silent abuse – leaving an abusive marriage

Abuse is a strong term and one that conjures images of a bruised and battered person. Yet there is an unspoken abuse that occurs in many relationships and is actually considered quite normal by some – that is, psychological or emotional abuse.

Having experienced this in my previous relationship for many years I can tell you it’s an insidious form of abuse that held me in a lot of self-doubt and ate away at my self-worth. It wasn’t until I saw a clinical psychologist (after leaving an abusive marriage) that I even considered that I had been in a relationship that had domestic abuse. I nearly fell off my chair when she said that, but it supported me to acknowledge and deal with all my unresolved feelings around my partner and to understand how this form of abuse had come into my life.

Emotional abuse is subtle and it was easier for me to push aside what I felt at times because often my partner would say I was being overly sensitive, or he would simply disregard my feelings or boundaries. Over time I started to question my feelings and began to feel like I was the problem and that if I could just ‘fix’ myself in some way then all our issues would resolve.

Our relationship had the usual ups and downs, but often there were issues that felt insurmountable and rather than acknowledge this or leave the relationship, I would see it as my mission to overcome them and change my behaviours in order to deal with them. My body always let me know something was not right but I was used to over-riding my feelings to please others or keep the peace. In this I was giving away my own power and abusing myself in the process, so it is no wonder we don’t get to feel abuse when it is subtle – we are more likely to let it go because we have already dismissed the feeling that flags that this abuse is not acceptable.

The interesting thing was from the outside many people felt we had a good relationship because we didn’t fight and seemed very affectionate with each other. On one level he would treat me like a princess, putting me on a pedestal, and while this may sound very romantic, in truth it feels very stifling and makes you feel like an object rather than an equal and respected as a woman. The princess label also makes you feel as if you have an image to live up to in order to fulfil the other’s needs and to satisfy their insecurities, as they are desperate to present to the world an image and a façade to feel superior and complete. Of course I played this game for a while until I could no longer bear how trapped and alone I felt.

My partner felt like our relationship was perfect, and he was a master of deflecting, minimizing and denying what was going on, making it very difficult to raise any concerns or ask him about such things as our finances, our future etc. If I sensed anything wrong in the relationship and wanted to discuss this with him I was met with a strong brick wall or he would turn nasty and aggressive, basically making me feel like I was at fault or in the wrong. He would push the blame onto me, acting like he was the victim rather than taking any personal responsibility at all.

This constant dismissal or ridicule began to really wear me down and I began to become silent for fear of the reactions that came when I asked questions, and towards the end of our relationship I felt like I was walking around on eggshells.

I wanted more transparency between us and to build a stronger connection that had more intimacy and trust so we could discuss anything freely, however there was such an immediate and forceful reaction that I would get scared and would shut down. Inside I felt crushed and helpless because I was not able to stand up to this force that was trying to intimidate and control me.

Eventually I knew I needed to seek support and so I began having regular sessions with Esoteric Healing practitioners. With the loving and true support of Serge Benhayon and the Esoteric Modalities I began to recognise these destructive patterns and the role I had played in sustaining them. The healing was not about positioning me as the victim of domestic violence, but exploring my responsibility for my own safety, well-being and care in this harmful relationship dynamic.

From this I have been able to build more confidence and to trust my body and my feelings once again. I eventually got the strength to leave my relationship and even though there were very challenging times through the process, it was an incredibly healing and empowering experience where I deeply appreciate this choice I finally made. I have never seen myself as being a victim or a survivor of domestic violence because I am aware that at some level this relationship had been a convenient and comfortable place for me to hide away from the powerful and loving woman I truly am.

My healing is not complete and is a work in progress, but one I welcome. I am becoming more and more aware of the many forms of abuse that I (we) allow in areas of life. The most interesting and exposing experience for me is to see how much abuse many consider ‘normal’ and don’t even question.

Since my own experience, I remind people wherever it is needed that this dynamic – of ‘control’ on one part and ‘hiding’ on the other – is not a true way to be with others.

I can see the ripple effects of leaving an abusive marriage and healing this abuse in my life, being able to offer support and inspiration to others to see the fact that no matter what your situation is, there is great strength and power within.

This power is never absent, just silenced when we turn a blind eye to abuse.

Our power is not in fighting back, but in simply saying ‘no’ to any abuse in our lives.

Filed under

AbuseRelationshipsSelf-loveBreak upBullyingDomestic violenceEmpowerment Relationship problems

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd