Emotionally Abusive Relationship
How to Distinguish Emotional Safety from Emotional Abuse
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
Have you ever noticed that you can experience yourself differently in the presence of two different people? Now Iím not saying that you may have multiple personalities. Perish that thought.
What I am saying is that you can experience yourself being different in the presence of different people. With some people you may notice yourself being relaxed, spontaneous and fully yourself. Whereas, with other individuals, you may find yourself guarded, tense and less forthcoming.
The "You" that You Experience in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
In an intimate relationship that has a pattern of emotional abuse, you may find yourself feeling fragile. You notice a hesitation in being effortlessly open. Your interaction is stifled and guarded at best. You donít bring all of you to the table.
Itís as though on some basic level, you are aware of the possibility for emotional endangerment with your partner. That possibility is felt as a probability. You encounter his/her emotional abuse regularly even though you may not be able to predicate its presentation.
What you come to know as true with this person is the pending danger that lurks in the crevasses of your conversations. Your natural instinct is to protect yourself, and so you do.
If you have lived in this relationship for some time, you could experience yourself as fragile and fragmented in the presence of this person whether you are being emotionally abused in the moment or not.
The "You" that You Experience in a Healthy Relationship
In contrast, there are other ways in which you know yourself when in the presence of a non-abusive partner. You can relax into an encounter, with the security of knowing that all will be well in being yourself.
There is no need to scrutinize your every thought before sharing it...no hesitation with respect to protecting your inner most feelings...no wall to hide behind and lean on. There is no need to hide and no need to lean, as you access your inner strength in the presence of this individual.
You feel safe, secure and whole within and it expresses itself in your interaction. There is congruence in your communication. Your thoughts and emotions are in sync.
If you have the opportunity to know these two experiences, seek to discover the variables surrounding you. Learn to recognize an emotionally abusive relationship from the inside out. Let your inner experience inform you and honor the wisdom revealed.
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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.