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Intimate Partner Abuse Screen




Domestic Abuse and Self-Esteem - Conditioned Dissociation in Abusive Relationships

domestic violence consulting expert


By Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Abused intimate partners do come in all shapes and sizes, and most definitely there are some themes characterizing them. Some people will tell you low self-esteem is one of these characteristics. But what came first: the chicken or the egg?

I would venture to say it could go either way. I see an inordinate number of highly functioning, high-end professionals, well educated and with a six-figure income who are abused by their intimate partners.

What I notice is these women and men evidence "conditioned dissociation." This conditioning is how he/she grows to disregard him/herself.

Over time, the abused partner grows to see him/herself as they are told they are seen by their intimate partners. And much approval is received for this "internalized personal perception."

But when apart from the abusive partner, these individuals may drop the internalized personal perception and become who they really are. They are authentic, they are vital, they are themselves at least until they return to their abusive partners.

So what came first the chicken or the egg? Looking closer, as we have, opens the door for significant insight on how to shed the internalized personal perception of the abusive partner. Doing so gives new life to those once abused.

If you find yourself becoming what your former partner expected, and in many cases desired, recognize the operative conditioning in play. I've heard people say they became depressed following an encounter with an abuser they recently left.

It's noted that the depressed feeling is the "face" put on in the presence of that person as though reflexively becoming as expected by the former partner. And with that down-depressed radiance set in the genuine feeling of the blues.

Reach back for yourself above and beyond the expectation and desire of the abusive ex-partner. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and happy you did. For more information about the dynamics of abusive relationships, visit Domestic Abuse Dynamics where you'll learn more about identifying domestic abuse and breaking the cycle. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D., psychologist, author and speaker, helps individuals recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.

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©Copyright 2008 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

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.