Domestic Abuse Signs
Co-Dependency in Abusive Relationships

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

When your well-being depends on another person feeling good, you are essentially co-dependent. Unfortunately, this is the state of affairs groomed in an abusive relationship.

Some people will tell you that co-dependency is conditioned through domestic abuse. And others will say that people who are co-dependent get into abusive relationships. What do you think?

Living in an Abusive Relationship

If you are in an abusive relationship, you know the way your partner doles out rewards as a function of your willingness to assume responsibility for his/her well-being.

Some couples project that they believe this is one of the assets of their relationship. They take pride in “it” declaring that it’s being in-tune with one another. While it may require being in tune with one’s partner; it’s more about being out of turn with oneself.

Abusive Relationship Conditioning

Take Laura and Alex for example. Alex expects and demands Laura’s sensitivity to his every need. If she misses a step in her catering “responsibilities,” the s_____ hits the fan.

She’s in trouble. He will shower her with his sentiments of her deficiencies until she apologies for what he deems as her wrong doing.

Early on in their courtship, Laura learned to keep the peace and cultivate “endless” well being by keeping in sync with her partner moment-to-moment. Her sensitivity was an asset to their relationship.

However, in time... the consequences of their co-dependency shattered the foundation for their ability to experience well being within much less between one another.

Breaking the Cycle

In your relationship, what role do you play? Are you the one responsible for the other person’s well being? Do you believe it is your “job” to insure their happiness?

Are you punished when you miss the moment? Is there an assault (verbal or physical) toward you (or your child) when your partner is feeling unfulfilled?

In working with couples in all stages of abusive relationships, it is clear that the issue of responsibility is cornerstone to breaking the cycle of intimate partner abuse. Additionally, I have noticed that the most effective way to inspire one's understanding the concept of responsibility and accountability is through minor moment-to-moment daily life experiences.

In other words, looking at the assumption of the other person being responsible for one’s happiness day-by-day can be far more effective in inspiring long-standing positive behavior change than beginning with the last or worst domestic violence assault.

In your own life, seek to embrace this understanding in your routine daily interaction first. The wisdom of ownership, accountability and responsibility will reveal itself.

For more information on breaking the cycle of domestic abuse in your relationship, visit and get instant access to free survivor success insights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps couples nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse.

© Jeanne King, Ph.D. — 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.