Marriage is a beautiful partnership but if abuse creeps in, it can be hell. Many do not like to acknowledge the existence of abuse in their marriage as they feel ashamed about it, despite being the victim. They think that society will look down upon them and shame them and their families for it. Some even end up feeling guilty and inadequate about themselves. How should you deal with an abusive partner? Here’s an expert look at it.
Domestic abuses can be physical, verbal or emotional in various permutations and combinations. It encompasses a wide range of behaviour which could include intimidation, blaming, economic abuse, sexual and physical violence, threats and so on. Experts attribute perpetration of abuse to various factors such as childhood scars, psychological problems, a need to control and so on.
*Vinay had grown up watching his father beat his mother whenever she did something that he did not like. He would hide himself under the bed or in a corner and watch as his father beat his mother leaving her injured, sometimes quite badly. When he grew up and married, he repeated the pattern when his wife disagreed with him. However, unlike his mother, his wife *Tina was not ready to stay silent over the abuse. She told him that either he mend his ways or quit the relationship. He was sorry about the abuse and begged forgiveness, he loved her and was ready to do what it takes to get their relationship back on track. Tina took help from a marriage counsellor who helped Vinay look objectively at his past childhood experiences and how he could shake away its influence in his life. Today, they have built a healthy relationship and Tina now trusts him.
To know how abuse works, you must look at the cycle. It’s also one of the key reasons that most victims find it difficult to break free. It comprises four stages, building tension, abuse, reconciliation and calm. The building tension stage can be a result of various triggers that could range from a problem at work, fatigue, illness, anger directed at a friend or disliking something the partner did. This brings on an inner sense of helplessness, anger, paranoia and so on. The next stage is that this tension that has been building up is unleashed on the spouse in different ways from verbal slurs to full-scale violent abuse. At the next stage, the abuser feels guilty and scared to lose face in front of family or friends. The abuser then tries to make up, showering gifts, flowers, love and so on. This can be a feel-good thing and the victim may warm up to the abuser again. The next stage is the ‘Calm’ where the abuser comes up with excuses for the behaviour such as external factors, other people or even your actions.
If you are a victim of abuse, don’t blame yourself. Your abuser can make you feel inferior, inefficient, incapable and not good enough. The end result is that you are likely to end up blaming yourself for the abuse. This is merely a ploy by the abuser to help justify the abuse. Remember, that no matter what, you cannot be blamed for the abuse.
Setting boundaries post abuse is important to your physical and mental well-being and safety. The first step is to communicate with your partner calmly and be clear that you want them to stop their behaviour. For instance, if your partner starts calling you nasty names, calmly state you won’t tolerate and disengage by walking out of the room. Do not get emotional. However, in cases of physical abuse, this can turn dangerous if the perpetrator can’t accept the change, so don’t try to be blatant about the boundary. Set up a safety plan and enlist professional help.
Make sure you build a strong support system if you have an abusive partner. Have a safety plan in case you need to leave the house. Have some emergency numbers you can reach and memorise them. Marriage support groups and older couples can help come up with ways to navigate abuse. Try to persuade your partner to attend counselling sessions and encourage changed behaviour. Seek professional help from marriage counsellors and also take advantage of helplines.
Sadhguru explains that meditativeness is an important quality to bring into our lives and our families, rather than trying to fix the other person.