Why You Can’t Say “No”
in Your Abusive Relationship
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
"If there is something that you want from me and it is not naturally forthcoming from me, then I’m in trouble." Sound familiar?
If you know domestic abuse firsthand, then you know the fear of an abusive partner’s response to your not wanting to deliver that, which is requested of you. Whether you get a whine or a fist, you know there will be a price for your saying, “no.”
It could be the very reason you hesitate and often fail to say “no,” when you trust that is the right answer for you. It’s not about what you want or don’t want, rather it is about what you are avoiding in the context of your abusive partner not getting what he/she wants.
The Lack of Honoring and Boundaries
Abusive relationships are characteristically void of mutual honoring and respect. One partner is expected to accommodate the wishes and requests of the other (and not the other way around).
The expectation is created by the understood consequences. Both parties soon get to know the ordeal surrounding the controlling person not getting their wishes fulfilled. This person makes it crystal clear that “no” is not an acceptable response.
From the moment you hesitate to the actual delivery of your “no,” the suspense builds and the fear heightens with each passing breath. You can be met with relentless pleas, covert manipulation, blatant character assaults and/or even a physical altercation.
You are keenly aware of the fact that your wishes don’t mean anything to anyone but yourself while living in this relationship. Rather then honoring your desires and respecting your boundaries, you can be led to believe that your having them evidences a defect within you.
Setting Limits in Abusive Relationships
Over time you are conditioned to believe that your preferences, your limits and your boundaries are the trigger for your inner anxiety. Some people do what they think is essential to alleviate that anxiety and before you know it, choices are being made for the wrong reasons.
We learn to live in the abusive relationship by keeping the battles at bay...and before you know it, you lose sense of who and what you are. Your boundaries are as vague to you as they are to your abusive partner.
A cornerstone in breaking the cycle of domestic abuse is arresting this interaction pattern wherein your “no” is your outer war and your “yes” is your inner war. If you resonate with this dysfunctional dynamic characteristic of abusive relationships, seek to find effective domestic abuse treatment.
For information about therapy for domestic abuse , visit http://www.enddomesticabuse.org/domestic_violence_trt.php and claim Free Instant Access to The 7 Realities of Verbal Abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
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.