Abusive Relationship Help – Winning,
Whining and Losing in Abusive Relationships

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.



“When you pressure me, you lose me. And instead you get yourself and the illusion that you won me over.” Sound like a familiar abusive relationship sign?

People in abusive relationships spend an inordinate amount of time in a tug-of-war dance. He is insisting on her seeing, doing or being life as he wants, and she struggles within herself to hold her own or cave in.

Each round of this little dance brings her farther from herself and him farther from her, as well. And the real net effect, over time, is that she steps back bit-by-bit until the day comes when she may be there in space and time, but has left in every other way.

Winning in Abusive Relationships

It’s as though he must win. His urge to get his way is more important than what he wins through any individual conquest. For example, let’s say we have a couple in which she wishes to do a family chore in her way. This routine task may be as small as taking inventory of household items for maintenance.

Now it has always been her job to perform this mundane job, but for some reason it becomes important for him to take over. So, he steps in and takes over. She knows when she requests that he let her do this task as she is accustomed that he will hold tighter and tighter to his insisting on her letting him take charge.

At no time does she nor he voice their innermost attachment to the “activity” (in question) being their way. All we see and all they know is the other is attempting to interfere with their “winning.”

The tug-of-war can go on ad-nauseam...until she caves in. What he may not be aware of is in his “win,” he has lost contact with his partner. And she remains numb in her skin and longing to withdraw.

Because It’s Important to You

Now, let’s run this same example through superimposing a different dynamic and look at the net effect on the individuals and on their relationship.

Let’s envision the “man of the house” taking charge with respect to this household activity that she has done for decades. And she objects, letting him know that she prefers to take care of the chore on her own.

If it becomes clear to him that her efforts to hold her own are indicative of this choice being important to her, then the door opens for things to play out differently. In addition, he would need to find in himself some benefit to honoring that which is important to her. It may simply be because she is important to him.

Now, I suppose you could ask why go her way over his way. Good question...though the answer is less important relative to the lesson.

It’s NOT between You and Them Anyway

Mother Teresa said, “In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

So what’s God have to do with this interaction that the couple in our example are having? It has everything to do with it on the inside, and not much on the outside.

When you concede because you are honoring the other person rather than lying down in the path of the bull, you remain connected to your respect for them. And when they yield to you in appreciation for their honoring you, they too remain connected to their respect for you (and their relationship with you). In both, there is an alignment with the divinity within each person respectively.

Can This Respect Be Learned?

Yes, this respect can be learned and honoring other can be cultivated like any other interactional habit. If you are in an abusive relationship, and long to change things from the inside out, find a domestic abuse intervention that addresses the subtle communication patterns of battering relationships.

When you and your partner look at your spats from the inside out rather than the outside in, you open the door to change. And with practice, the changes you make become new life/relationship interaction habits.

For more information about abusive relationship help, visit www.domesticabusecounseling.org and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps couples nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. Copyright 2010 Jeanne King, Ph.D. - Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

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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.