Abusive Relationships – “Criticism/Feedback”
in Relationships: Destruction or Enrichment
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
If I tell you that something you have done is disturbing or unacceptable to me, and you reply attacking me…then we are in trouble, and so is our relationship. Abusive relationships are fertile ground for this kind of interaction.
The perpetrator does not bring empathy to the interaction and cannot see what is presented from their partner’s experience. Instead, all that is heard is a “criticism.” With the perceived criticism on the table, discomfort sets in…precipitating a reflexive externalization of blame and, in some cases, an outright assault upon the “criticizer.”
The reply may be one in which the perpetrator tells the victim that their perceptions are inaccurate. Or he/she may tell the abused that their feelings simply aren’t valid or are due to some deficiency within them.
With this exchange, one can expect a spiraling of conflict that cascades into a fight or gets swept under the carpet for both parties to trip over in the days, weeks and years ahead.
Battering to Enrichment
Now if, on the other hand, the criticism were met with some degree of mere listening (with the intent to analyze and understand) then the door would open for self-reflection, accountability, ownership and responsibility. From here, the couple can negotiate agreements acceptable to both parties. And no one is hurt, as the relationship grows and becomes enriched.
Sounds reasonable, correct? The question you maybe asking yourself is how to I get from A to B? How can our relationship go from having the first kind of exchange that nets us interpersonal/relationship violence to the second exchange that inspires harmony and enrichment?
If you are asking this question, you may be ripe for a relationship makeover designed to end partner abuse and promote satisfying relationship interaction.
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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.