Masked: Relationship Abuse and Recovery Guide

Masked: Relationship Abuse and Recovery Guide

by Dr. Cherry D. Weber


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781457556906
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Publication date: 11/21/2017
Pages: 116
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.28(d)

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Healthy Relationships

Having a good relationship is possible, but it's not easy. Ideally, a good relationship is based on responsibility and respect as much or more than love. Love is essential, but it is not enough, by itself, for a relationship to be successful. Each person in a relationship should be aware that both partners have needs, wants, interests, hobbies, and preferences. Often, these may be similar, but many times they may be different. It is imperative that both partners realize that each person's needs and wants are legitimate and important regardless of whether those needs and wants are shared. Nor does one partner have the right to try to talk his or her partner out of his or her needs, wants, feelings, or perspective. Although it is necessary to respect and support others' preferences, people don't have to agree. You have the right to expect and require the same consideration you provide to your partner.

A good relationship is about accepting responsibility for your own happiness. This, of course, assumes you were encouraged to develop yourself when growing up and know yourself well enough now to identify what makes you happy and unhappy. If you were raised in an abusive home, however, you were probably taught to focus on others' desires in an attempt to avoid being abused. You may even be uncomfortable expressing what you want. This is a recipe for relationship disaster. It guarantees that you will eventually become resentful. Whether you are in a relationship or not, you are still responsible for your own happiness, which means identifying and changing things about which you are unhappy. If you are bored, you need to understand why, not blame your partner or expect them to resolve the boredom. It is not fair to expect your partner to know if you are happy, nor is it fair to expect them to fix problems. You are responsible for communicating your feelings and letting your partner know what you need to be happy. You can, however, express what they are doing, if anything, that contributes to your unhappiness. You must then decide if you are satisfied with their response to your needs.

So, what happens when partners want very different things? There are two options readily available. The first is to negotiate, that is, identify differences without judging the other's wants or needs. Then, each partner can offer a solution that fulfills both people's needs. The person making the proposal should be comfortable with the solution they are proposing. The other partner then can decide if the approach meets his or her needs. If they do not think the proposed solution will work, they should be clear in their response, without resorting to negativity. They then have the opportunity and responsibility to offer an alternate solution.

This process continues until both partners feel good about an agreed upon plan and feel there was no arm-twisting. If someone feels as if they have "lost an argument," then the process has failed. Often, this process cannot be completed quickly. It can be frustrating, and resolution may, at some points, seem impossible. Your ability to think creatively of solutions will be challenged. It is not only perfectly acceptable but wise to stop the negotiating process if either partner gets too emotional or tired. It is also a good idea to discuss the issue with close, trusted friends to get the perspective of a third party. It is important to remember that both partners need to feel happy with the resolution. This is called a Win-Win Resolution and is well worth the time, energy, and effort.

The second option when partners want different things is to allow each partner to do what they want without negative repercussions, provided those actions do not damage the partnership. Examples of things that damage the relationship include doing something sexually to which the other partner objects, moving to another country, or doing something financially risky. Some legitimate examples include a partner going to a professional sporting event in which the other partner has no interest or one wanting to go shopping when the other hates shopping. People who enjoy long-term partnerships typically have several mutual interests, as well as things they enjoy doing as individuals. Both are important. Separate interests and experiences add interesting things to share with each other. It is almost always unhealthy for partners to feel they must do almost everything together. It is healthier and easier to remain together long-term when partners remain individuals and each brings his or her best to the relationship.

Couples often complain about their partner's wants or demands. Let's face it: we just get tired and sometimes feel a bit sorry for ourselves. What the partner wants may seem small and or picky. But little things matter. They tend to build up over time and either become bigger things or the buildup produces a general unhappiness and resentment. Sometimes, the couple doesn't realize what caused the unhappiness. If you find yourself tired and depleted, it is your responsibility to identify the feelings and causes and get whatever you need to feel fulfilled and happy. By doing so, you'll have the ability to respond to your partner.

It is much more productive and healthier to approach a partner's needs and wants with the attitude of "What can I do to help?" rather than "What do I have to do?" Most of the time, people in a partnership are happier when their partner is happy. Quite often, miserable, unhappy people prefer similar company. Therefore, it is in both partners' best interest to support the happiness of their partner if they want to live a happy life themselves.

Although the above guidance seems simple, it is often not easy when coping with the stresses of life with jobs, children, or illness. Successful relationships are simple, but not always easy. The above practices will work effectively but only if both individuals are relatively healthy, can identify what they want, and know that what they want is important. If you attempt to negotiate an issue and find your partner criticizes your feelings, belittles your wants, or attacks you personally, then something else is going on in the relationship. At this point, it is generally helpful to get professional help.

Below I have highlighted some qualities of a good relationship. If you were raised in an abusive home, you should deliberately look for these qualities in a relationship, even if you did not previously consider these qualities important and necessary before reading this book. Deliberately looking for these qualities is important. It is easy to feel attracted to someone because they are attracted to you, which makes you feel good. You are grateful that the person likes you, grateful they are nice to you, or relieved that you do not feel alone. If the qualities listed below are not a part of your relationship, you should probably reconsider the relationship or seek professional help.

Respect. Pay attention even when your friends are around. Listen to what your partner says and value his or her opinion, even if it differs from your own. Both people should feel free to speak up about concerns and feel they are heard when concerns are expressed. Neither person should use criticism, teasing, ridicule, sarcasm, or threats to get their way.

Intimacy. Both people respect their partner's boundaries and feel that the limits they have set are respected. Both respect each other's privacy, do not pressure their partner, and are faithful. Neither person is so possessive that the other is expected to give up spending some time with friends and family or alone.

Fairness and Negotiation. Both people are willing to compromise and work to find solutions that are agreeable to both and can agree to have different opinions. Disagreements are conducted safely. Neither person says or does anything hurtful in frustration over disagreements.

Physical Affection. Both partners respect the other person's right to say no. Both partners respect what their partner is comfortable with physically and sexually without pressuring them. It is important to compromise on each other's needs and desires for physical closeness and sexual frequency.

Open Communication. You both can express your feelings or opinions freely and know it is okay to disagree. Both people can trust the other to tell the truth.

Trust and Support. Be supportive of your partner even when they have different ideas, interests, and friends. Want the best for your partner by offering encouragement when necessary. Make a continual effort and show the most consideration, never the least. Both partners keep their word and honor agreements, promises, and commitments.

Equality and Shared Responsibility. Make decisions together, and do things for each other. Make decisions so that neither person does most of the giving or most of the getting.

Honesty and Responsibility. Neither partner makes excuses for their partner or for their own actions or behavior. Both admit when they are wrong, and they keep their word. Both people manage their anger without doing each other verbal or physical harm.

Positive Parenting. Both partners treat and refer to the other parent with respect. Both people agree on decisions made for their children and are supportive of the children having a loving relationship with the other parent.


Dynamics of Domestic Abuse

In contrast to a healthy relationship, in which the couple works together to solve differences so both people are happy, is domestic abuse. Domestic violence and abuse are terrible things. Too many people are too familiar with such suffering, whereas many others have no idea what it entails. I have talked with people who seem to be clueless about the subject. Having dealt with domestic violence and abuse for many years, and knowing how often it occurs, I wonder if the people who are so totally unaware are in the minority. I have actually heard people talking among themselves after a presentation on domestic violence saying, "We didn't need to hear that," or "This talk should have been given somewhere that this type of thing actually happens." Don't be misled by such thoughts. It happens everywhere. It crosses all socioeconomic barriers and can happen to anyone. Domestic violence and abuse happen when a family member, partner, or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate and control another. This abuse happens within an intimate relationship and often continues after the relationship has ended. I am not talking about a one-time thing, but a systematic method of maintaining power and control in a relationship.

The central concepts of abuse are manipulation, power, dominance, and control, which are maintained in various ways. Abusers use or threaten to use physical, emotional, verbal, financial, and/or sexual abuse. Their intent is to instill fear, intimidation, and control.

What does abuse look like? How can you tell when behavior is abusive? Abuse takes many forms, and it varies with the abuser. Abusers generally use more than one kind or a combination of abusive tactics. It is not necessarily physically violent. Verbal abuse leaves many scars and, although invisible, is just as destructive. Remember, fear and intimidation are key elements of abuse. Physically, abusers may strangle, slap, punch, kick, push, or block your exit from a room. They may lock you out of the house, take your keys, hide the car, and go through your purse or other private areas. Some get more violent and resort to rape, throwing objects, damaging your possessions, smashing furniture, hurting or killing pets, depriving you of sleep, threatening to break things, or harming other people. He can insist you spend all your time with him, demand to choose your friends and activities for you, tell you what to wear, and the list goes on and on. Others threaten to hurt your children or kidnap them. This particular threat is extremely powerful. The abuser will tell you that you are a bad or unfit mother and that other people — even the courts — will never believe anything you say. Because the abuser has been so powerful in your life, it is easy to believe he will be powerful and successful with the court system. Unfortunately, too often this is the case, especially if you have limited finances.

In its emotional form, the abuser insults, screams, talks over, belittles, withholds love and affection, refuses to talk, or refuses to end an argument. Oddly enough, abusers even may threaten to leave or to kill themselves. It is common to be so traumatized that you often feel as if you are going crazy. After a while you may wonder if he is correct, even if what the abuser says is obviously wrong. A person who once acted lovingly toward you has turned into your worst nightmare. It's extremely confusing and painful.

Then there's the matter of withholding money or aid. Once again, the abuser seeks control and power. If you are financially independent, you are more difficult to control and more capable of leaving the situation. When you do not have access to money or credit cards, you are in a worse dilemma. The abuser may withhold money and support, claiming you are selfish. Ironically, this type of abuser won't allow you to work for fear that you could become independent; thus he would lose his leverage. He may harass you about not having a job outside the home and call you lazy, while simultaneously preventing you from working. Even if you manage to get a job, he can easily sabotage it by withholding transportation or carfare or harassing you at work.

Sexually, the abuser can either refuse to have sex with you, demand sex without your consent, or bully you into doing things sexually either with the abuser or with others that you aren't comfortable doing. Sexual abuse also includes making decisions about reproduction without consulting you. He can insist on having children whether you want to or not. Or, he may refuse to have a child.

This is only a miniscule list of what victims have endured, and the combinations of abuse are as varied as the abusers. It is important for the abuser to isolate you from family, friends, and other support systems to get you as vulnerable and dependent as possible. Then, they systematically begin to destroy your self-esteem, health, confidence, and soul. You feel you cannot be yourself and are behaving the way you believe the abuser wants you to act. You then begin to lose your sense of self and in essence wear a mask.

Abuse in a relationship generally does not begin in a full-blown state. It is a gradual thing that begins with small events, then takes root and grows like other diseases that kill people. The relationship does not necessarily begin with abuse, although when looking back, it is often possible to see the signs of disrespect, jealousy, and control that ever so insidiously start taking over. Seldom is the beginning of the abuse dramatic or violent, although some relationships have obvious abuse from the early dating relationship. And, abusers don't wear signs, so it is difficult to spot someone who will become an abuser.

Tolerance for abuse is due to deeply ingrained family patterns or a culture that causes you to see your abusive treatment as acceptable. Accepting mistreatment is what keeps you in the relationship as the abuse becomes terribly destructive. People who have never seen abuse in the loving relationships of home are much less tolerant of being abused, unless they were overprotected and not equipped to make decisions for themselves. If you have been or seen abusive behavior in your family, you will have greater difficulty identifying that you are being abused. You may even think you caused or deserve the abuse.

Please do not judge yourself harshly. Regardless of your intelligence, knowledge, social standing, or education, you are in a relationship in which you still love the person who is abusing you. You stay for reasons that make sense to you even if other people don't understand. You have a lot invested in your relationship and want to believe your loved one will change and can change. Do not worry about others' opinions. No one else knows how they would act in your situation. They may think they know what they would do in your situation, but until they have walked in your shoes, no one can truly know what actions they themselves would take. Just remember to do your best.

Anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship. When people date, they often wonder how they seem to continually attract dysfunctional people. Actually, every person attracts dysfunctional people; some just recognize it and "throw them back" sooner. This relates to one's tolerance for dysfunction and abuse. There are, in general, two kinds of backgrounds or "training grounds" for individuals who are more predisposed to get into abusive relationships and have difficulty extricating themselves.


Excerpted from "Masked"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Dr. Cherry D. Weber.
Excerpted by permission of Dog Ear Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Healthy Relationships,
Chapter 2: Dynamics of Domestic Abuse,
Chapter 3: Examples of Domestic Abuse,
Chapter 4: The Effects of Abuse,
Chapter 5: Why Do You Stay?,
Chapter 6: What You Can Do,
Chapter 7: Help from a Friend or Family Member,
Chapter 8: The Process of Leaving and Recovery,
Chapter 9: Will It Happen Again?,
Chapter 10: Will You Ever Be Okay Again?,
For More Information,
Checklist A: Evaluate Your Relationship for Abuse,
Checklist B: Recognizing Emotional and Verbal Abuse,
Checklist C: Recognizing an Abuser,
Figure 1: The Cycle of Abuse,
Figure 2: Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships,

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