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Abusive Relationships - does it take two?


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Old 10th April 2011, 9:14 PM   #46
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I think that women throughout history have been abusive, if not being able to fight back with their husbands then they perhaps go after their children.

I also think that abuse is actually a really mishandled coping mechanism by those that abuse. They just can't deal and lose it. And the feelings of power it gives them is addictive as well. Think about all of those hormones rushing through someone that has that behaviour pre-set in their template.
That is not a ticket to do it.
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Old 11th April 2011, 6:22 AM   #47
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Old 12th April 2011, 7:24 AM   #48
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I do believe that everything I said about men abusing women is true. If it is also true for women abusing men then I am very sorry for those men who are experiencing it. I'm sure there are a lot of women in the world who can be just as frightening as a man, especially with a weapon in their hand.
Yes! In fact, some things you said are more true for other way around. Just take an example, if a man tries to defend himself from being abused, in many cases, he is charged for abusing. It is a common mistake that whoever is hurt more, is considered victim, and as men are physically stronger, their defensive action also causes them trouble.

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The point of my post was not about who abuses who, it was about whether both people are to blame for the abuse.
It's ok. I just wanted to mention it that we shouldn't avoid 'Female over Male domestic violence' when we are discussing 'Abuse'.

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... I don't think it has much to do with gender. Women can be just as heartless and nasty as men, the only difference is because of gender roles men are usually even more humiliated by it then women and try to keep it to themselves.
This is exactly my point. Poor male victims rarely get the support themselves, as they are afraid of the society.

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I agree with some of the things you said but abuse is not as one sided across gender lines as you think. I remember my mother hitting my father, throwing things at him, spitting at him and almost anything else you can think of while he yelled back he never once laid a hand on her. In face she used to scream at him for not being man enough to hit her back.

The relationship with my ex was very similar. She used to hit me and throw things at me and once snuck up from behind and held a knife to my throat. I also got called a wimp for not hitting her.

I think that the motivations for abuse in both genders tend to be the same though.
This is exactly 'Abuse'. Your mom used to abuse your dad, and you had been abused by your ex. Just think what would have hapend to you, if you would have done those things to her? You would have charged for domestic violence. This is what I'm saying. You were being abused, but you never filed for it, because you were afraid of humiliation in the 'Society'.

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What I don't understand, Carhill, is how both parties are to blame for what happened in these cases...
When the victim doesn't try to get the support for defense, he/she is actually pushing the abuser more towards abuse.

LittleTiger, no worries. From your later responses it looks like you copy/pasted some material in the first post from somewhere a typical Feminist would have written, and you didn't know what was in that. Actually, I just wanted to mention things around here from a different perspective (you will keep getting different perspectives to see the things as long as I'm here).

This is also true that Females had been abusing their male partners in the entire history, but those actions were not been taken seriously.

Now, let's end this 'Female over Male' and 'Male over Female' abuse talk. I didn't want to start this 'Genderism' myself. The basic thing we should remember that when we are talking about 'Abuse' we should think it 'Genderless'. Any of the parties can be abusers and victims. When we are trying to help someone, we should really help them. Nowadays, in the internet era, we are all connected. Media is too powerful. We can find out the ways to help others in a fast method.

It's good to see that here we have so many people with good research on such topics. I joined this board just few days ago, and I found a post by a girl who was being abused by her parents. I didn't see any real help to her (the post was few weeks old). I really felt sorry for her, and didn't know what to do. At least someone could direct her to a good portal/number from where she could get help.

I hope we can help our society in a better way.

Thanks.

Zakfar.

Last edited by zakfar; 12th April 2011 at 7:34 AM..
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Old 12th April 2011, 8:15 AM   #49
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The point of my post was not about who abuses who, it was about whether both people are to blame for the abuse.
It's the attempt to blame one party for the mess that perpetuates it in most cases. In most cases, the abusive behaviour is for wont of a better way to honour ones own feelings. And in most cases, both parties are desperately unhappy and therefore both "victims".

Using loaded labels such as "abuser" and "victim" often does not help either change their ways. When both parties are healed, have let go of pent up feelings, recognised the harm they have caused, dealt with the unfinished business, changed their thought patters, learnt better ways to represent themselves without chronically encroaching on someone else's physical, financial, emotional, psychological, societal space, they become survivors of abuse.

This is not to say they aren't cases of a messed up person meeting a clear-headed person and harming them, and so leading them onto becoming unstable and more likely to be abusive and abused in the future as a result. But in most cases, it takes two to tango and the Rhianna / Chris Brown relationship is a very public representation of two people who abuse each other.
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Old 12th April 2011, 9:43 AM   #50
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LittleTiger, no worries. From your later responses it looks like you copy/pasted some material in the first post from somewhere a typical Feminist would have written, and you didn't know what was in that. Actually, I just wanted to mention things around here from a different perspective (you will keep getting different perspectives to see the things as long as I'm here).
Thanks for your reply zakfar. At the risk of making myself sound like a typical feminist (which I'm really not), I would like to point out that I am a highly intelligent, very well educated and, hopefully, articulate woman and nothing that I have written on LS or anywhere else is copied or pasted. Plagiarism really isn't my style.

If you hang around here for a while, you'll see that I do have very strong opinions about things, but I'm usually more than happy to back down and admit I may be wrong or uninformed about the other side of an argument, if a reasonable case is presented. There are, I admit, rare times when I won't back down, but this isn't one of them.

My original post was based, as I said easier, on my own experience of abuse and what I have read about men abusing women completely backs up my personal experience. So, as feminist as it may have come across, it was all my own thoughts and words.

I admit that I have no prior knowledge or personal experience of women abusing men, other than being aware that it happens, so I suppose my post was bound to come across one-sided. Had I tried to present it as 'this is what happens in all abusive relationships', an abused man such as betterdeal could have been offended by that too because I am clearly ignorant of that dynamic.

However, I'm pleased that I posted the topic and grateful to everyone who has responded on this thread. You've all helped to expand my knowledge of the subject from a different viewpoint.
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Old 12th April 2011, 11:22 AM   #51
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It's the attempt to blame one party for the mess that perpetuates it in most cases. In most cases, the abusive behaviour is for wont of a better way to honour ones own feelings. And in most cases, both parties are desperately unhappy and therefore both "victims".

Using loaded labels such as "abuser" and "victim" often does not help either change their ways. When both parties are healed, have let go of pent up feelings, recognised the harm they have caused, dealt with the unfinished business, changed their thought patters, learnt better ways to represent themselves without chronically encroaching on someone else's physical, financial, emotional, psychological, societal space, they become survivors of abuse.

This is not to say they aren't cases of a messed up person meeting a clear-headed person and harming them, and so leading them onto becoming unstable and more likely to be abusive and abused in the future as a result. But in most cases, it takes two to tango and the Rhianna / Chris Brown relationship is a very public representation of two people who abuse each other.
I understand what you're saying here betterdeal. I do wonder though if this is, in fact, a third dynamic of abuse because it really doesn't match my own experience or anything I've heard of in the past. Man abuses woman, woman abuses man and now both abuse each other. Clearly there are a lot of people on LS who have experienced this kind of relationship, such as yourself and DOT, but to me it's entirely new.

As I think I said earlier, I have never been in a situation where I was able to, or even wanted to abuse my abuser. On the contrary, I have always been concerned not to hurt other people either physically or mentally and have no understanding of anyone who gets pleasure out of the power dynamic.

As I see it, a mentally healthy adult, when faced with a potentially abusive partner will become aware of any abusive attempts at control fairly quickly. Abusing them back is not a healthy response (unless it's a physical attack, in which case most people would attempt to defend themselves).

If the dynamic can't be brought back to equal using assertiveness rather than aggression, gathering 'troops' to help and/or removing themselves from the situation in the most sensible thing to do. This is why I am so much in favour of personal development as a means of minimising, or even, eliminating abuse in our lives. With the right life skills, we don't need to abuse other people.

I'm not sure it's even possible for a clear-headed, psychologically healthy, independent person to be mentally, emotionally or psychologically abused - especially if they have prior experience and knowledge of abuse? The first signs and they will either 'nip it in the bud' or get out. I suppose you'd call it self-protection. You would hope that this survival instinct would kick in with everyone who has been abused in the past, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work that way.

To me, the occasional instance of 'abusive behaviour' does not make an abusive relationship. Most couples shout at each other occasionally and even call each other names but I don't believe that's an abusive relationship - if it was then most relationships would be abusive and they quite clearly aren't.

Anyway, after reading all that back to remind myself what I'd said, I think I've just answered my own question - probably as Carhill meant it.

An abusive relationship probably does take two people - both of them unhealthy. Either both people are abusive to one another and are battling for control (the dynamic I wasn't aware of) or one person has the power and is in control and the other is being controlled. If one person in the relationship is psychologically healthy the environment doesn't exist for abuse to take place.

Having said all that, I'm still hanging on to the idea that one person is responsible for throwing the first 'punch'.

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Old 12th April 2011, 6:18 PM   #52
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I'm not sure it's even possible for a clear-headed, psychologically healthy, independent person to be mentally, emotionally or psychologically abused - especially if they have prior experience and knowledge of abuse
I think it has a lot to do with experience and knowledge of abuse as you said. If people know what type of behavior to look out for and the warning signs then it is easy to remove yourself from that situation before you dig yourself too deep in that hole. I've had a friend in an abusive relationship that was afraid to leave because they were together for so long, didn't know what to do, etc.

I think it can happen to just about anyone if they don't know what to look out for. If they feel like they're in love with this person it can be hard to think rationally and logically, because feelings of attraction and love are often irrational and powerful. Why else would a mother sacrifice her own life to save her child?

With that said, it is easy for a person outside of the relationship to critique. For example, there is a large difference between watching the hockey game, and being a player in the hockey game. The observer sees things from a different angle and can often see what's coming, while the player is in the thick of it making it hard to see things as a whole, they often just see what's right in front of them.

I do see your point of view with one person does start the cycle of abuse, and I agree with it. I believe it is just as important though to how the other person responds to the first "punch" though.

With all this said, I'm learning a lot of new perspectives and ideas from this and I'm glad everyone else seems to be too
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Old 14th April 2011, 6:30 AM   #53
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I'm glad to be of help. It's good to see LittleTiger that you learned something new with all this. I really appreciate the concern you normally have for others, and I really like the way you try to help others here on this board. Although it all started with pointing out something I believed you were missing, it all turned up in Gender communication.

One thing I want to mention here. In most of the replies to anyone's comment, I normally see the responses based on Genderism. Society has made some standards, and normally people believe that we should do and act accordingly. I ask, why? Why should we do what the 'Others' want? Why shouldn't we do what we want? This is not hidden from anyone that many people enjoy 'Submission'. We all know that some people are even 'Masochists'. Homosexuals, Bisexuals, Transsexuals, Switches, Swingers, and people with different Fetishes, they are all among us. These are some facts not hidden anymore. Then why shouldn't we utilize this knowledge in our real communication? Why shouldn't we let the people do what they want to do? Obviously, it should not hurt others. If it's not hurting anyone, then what's the problem with allowing them have their 'Freedom of Choice'?

I know based on this concept, the concept of Abuse further complicates. I would like to talk about his, but for some reason, I want to avoid this discussion here on this board. The concept is simple. When we're trying to help others, we should analyze their requirements and based on that we should help them. Not just because 'This is not right...'

Abuse is complicated to explain. As you said, almost all the relationships have small fights. In my dictionary, this is obviously not abuse. For me, the real abuse is something different.

All the relationships start with affection or some other forms of attraction between the couple. But just in a while, they start realizing the mentalities of each other. Based on that, some untold rules are transferred between them, and the system of that relationship start establishing. Personally, I recommend that the couples should find out their desires and share openly with each other for better mutual understanding, and making the system to satisfy the needs of both of them, as close as possible, but it is seldom done, and even if it's done, not all the things are shared. Not all the rules are normally told, but both of them are aware of them.

Now if one of them breaks a rule, the first problem occurs. If the partner feels guilty and ashamed, and avoids the repetition, problem is solved. This is actually the repetition that causes the problem. And it becomes 'Abuse' when the second partner has negative reaction for that. Based on this concept, the 'Psychological Abuse' is better defined, and 'BDSM Activities' are differentiated from 'Physical Abuse'.

I know the discussion is getting more complex. But as I said, I love to show the things from 'Different Perspective'.

I hope it helps.

Zakfar.

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Old 14th April 2011, 7:02 AM   #54
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Having said all that, I'm still hanging on to the idea that one person is responsible for throwing the first 'punch'.
Everyone is responsible for any punches they throw, first, last or one in the middle. An abusive relationship is one where abuse is chronic i.e. happening almost all of the time.

From the perspective of each participant, they have taken the best action they knew to at that time. Most often this is learnt behaviour and learnt thought patterns. As it is learnt, we can learn new, better ways to think and behave, if we want to.

More often than not, someone who uses physical violence has learnt that from childhood. I learnt to hit bullies back, when I was bullied. It was effective - it stopped the bullying. But I didn't learn other ways to protect my self from other things that hurt me but were not physical.

I was also taught that boys don't hit girls, which left me with a wide gaping hole in my defences when it came to assaults by women. I also had to provide my mother with emotional support. The person who once beat me for crying. I learnt to bear the weight of other people's problems.

I learnt to disassociate, to switch off, to grin and bear it. I had no other options save for my parents splitting up, and since my dad tried to kill himself the one time that happened, that was a bit of a Hobson's Choice.

So what I was used to, what I had learnt, shaped my behaviour in the future. I took abuse, didn't show outward signs of being affected, and suppressed my feelings. The urge to hit back or to remonstrate was there, sure, but I kept burying the negative feelings because I didn't know any other way to deal with them.

When I had violent outbursts - such as when my first girlfriend split up with me and started seeing my close friend and our housemate - it consisted of me in my own room bouncing around and punching the walls. Again, because I didn't know any better way to express the pain, to feel it, to let it out.

I've learnt better ways since then and by becoming more self-aware, I am more other-aware too. I don't think trying to blame one party for a difficult relationship is productive. Helping each become aware of their contribution and their own feelings, what are real or perceived threats, and showing them ways to act on those feelings is more likely to result in better, healthier choices and behaviour in the future.

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Old 17th April 2011, 1:04 AM   #55
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An abuser obviously can't abuse without having someone to be abusive towards so in that respect it does 'take two'. However, abuse can begin before the victim is even aware it's happening and, if they don't understand what's happening, they can get sucked in so fast they don't know what's hit them (no pun intended).

Some people are clearly easier to abuse than others but, even so, the responsibility for abusive dynamics in a relationship must surely be placed on the person who started it.
I agree.

Don't get me started on this culture's current "codependency" religion, especially when applied to domestic violence. IMO, the codependent argument is just shorthand for: "You wouldn't have gotten raped if you hadn't been wearing your skirt too short."

It's well known that people with highly empathetic, loyal, trusting NATURES are more likely to be targeted by abusers. (Read Sandra Brown's "Women Who Love Psychopaths.") Note that I didn't say people with codependent tendencies. Brown's book articulates why.

Our culture leads us to believe that a domestic violence victim is inherently "weak" and "codependent" (sick) to begin with. This is why Nicole Simpson's family was so shocked to learn that Nicole was being abused. They kept insisting, incredulously, to the media: But Nicole came from a loving, supportive, healthy family! I imagine this is why her family went on a media blitz to educate the public that anyone could end up in Nicole's situation.

Put a fairly healthy person in a pathological situation and eventually that person will start being affected by the pathology. It's not the other way around (i.e., the pathological starts getting healthy around a normal person).

Traumatic bonding is a heady dose of brain chemistry that isn't easily explained away with the (tired, sometimes intellectually lazy, always vaguely misogynistic) codependency model.

Please read Lundy Bancroft's classic book on domestic violence. He's an expert who has worked in the trenches for years. After years of attempting to rehabilitate abusers, he does not have an optimistic view of the situation. I don't recall Bancroft ever referring to domestic violence victims as "codependents" and focusing on fixing THEM. He is more focused on educating people about the ABUSE and recognizing the pathology before its undertow starts reeling you in. He is focused on making domestic violence victims aware of a dangerous, pathological, often no-win situation and helping them escape from it. He has tremendous empathy for them.

Read Patrick Carnes' book, "The Betrayal Bond," for more information on brain chemistry involved in traumatic bonding.

By the way: I am a HUGE proponent of taking personal responsibility and doing a searching inventory to gain self awareness and avoid patterns. I just feel that trauma is in a special category and get disgusted when people who are traumatized are labeled as sinners - oops! "codependents" -- by our society.

P.S. Have you ever noticed that it's usually women who are labeled as "codependents"? It's interesting, especially when you consider that many experts think domestic violence is directly related to cultural misogyny. Perhaps abusers get lots of support from the culture at large when the culture slaps victims of domestic violence with the "codependent" word. Something to consider.
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Old 17th April 2011, 12:32 PM   #56
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I see abusive cycles as an interaction. I have come across some new studies which suggest that females are more abusive within adolescence and abused women often become the abuser later on within the cycle of abuse. Google it. Quite interesting.

So I don't go with the male bias altogther. I would think that men may hit out more but women often are master manipulators who keep the cycle well fuelled due to their own lack of self awareness. Proving emotional abuse is very difficult though ..

Overall, I don't think generalising helps but within stopping further abuse it is imperative that the abused person recognise their part within the cycle. Blaming just one person doesn't help, just perptuates the cycle.

It would be good if there was another classification of abuse to recognise the initial stages of the abusive cycle. I think most cases fall within this range. Much of the heavier stuff can often disguise the beginnings of the abusive cycle methinks. Some won't enter into the bigger stuff but stay within essentially emotionally abusive cycles and therefore don't think it is abusive because there is no hitting. Biggest example; people who play mind games. Chuck in alcohol, a few drugs, the presence of kids and people will think, 'yeah, that's abuse' but the abuse started way ealier as an ill interaction between two people.

That's what I think anyway. It's not PC and it should not be the response given to people who are initially leaving abusive relationships but I reckon it is the glue behind what enables the abuse in the first place.

Then again, I don't advocate this 'poor you' philosphy that many want to adopt. All that does is enable people to go from one unhealthy relationship to the next, often with kids in tow.

Take care,
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Old 17th April 2011, 1:06 PM   #57
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I hope this illustrates my point more accurately.

The Freedom Programme is what Women's Aid use in the UK. Since this is an American site, I have provided the links from the originators of the Programme (an American group) rather than from the UK.

It is important that people see the initial stages of the cycle of abuse so they are able to make better choices within their relationships. Being one who grew up in a DV household I think these things must remain at the level of engaging individuals above all else.

http://www.freedomprogramme.co.uk/freedom-programme.php

.. but if you are in a male dominated society.. P'ssshhhh.. I would say you are pretty screwed. I would simply move or utterly avoid all men in THAT scenario.

Not sure that a person can beat the institutional abuse of women without greater outside help ..

Take care,
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Old 17th April 2011, 5:06 PM   #58
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I disagree with the codependent theory, but I certainly don't subscribe to the "poor me" story. Both are unhelpful, in my experience.

Eve, I think what you're saying has great validity, but my argument is that it's all a matter of timing -- that is, being sensitive to where a person is at in their transitioning out of an abusive relationship.

I also think people need to question their own intention when slapping the word "codependent" on someone. By labeling someone as "codependent," the implication is that you are NOT -- otherwise, one wouldn't have the authority to label. So my question to the person applying the label would be: Are you truly wanting to be helpful by using that word, or is there a form of anger/control being directed toward the person through use of the word "codependent"? I believe one can be compassionate to someone's suffering without falling into pity or its other extreme, judgment.

Personally, I feel that when someone is being hit, slapped and told they are garbage on a daily basis, it's probably legitimate to characterize them as "victims." We live in a world of duality, and words are symbols reflecting that duality, like it or not.

Unlike abusers, "victims" are often very interested in help and transformation. That's well known.

So I balk at blanketing someone with the word "you're a codependent" (code for: you asked for it, baby). It can't possibly help someone trying to pull out of a traumatic situation. In fact, I see it as another form of abuse, no matter how well-intentioned. Attacking someone who already feels attacked only serves to further isolate them in an abusive situation that is profoundly isolating.

We have to meet people where they are. I believe it's crucial for people caught in an abusive situation to be educated on the pattern of abuse and the nature of abusive personalities (often those with personality disorders, IMO). This turns on the light of awareness. Once they see that, they begin to move out of it.

Grieving is a very necessary part of getting out of an abusive relationship, and anger is a part of the grieving process. The anger stage often looks and sounds like "poor me." That's just the way of it. It's necessary though. Once the grieving process completes, integration is next. (Incidentally, it seems to me that two groups of people tend to get offended by those transitioning through the anger stage of grief: 1) those who have never experienced the situation, don't truly understand it and thus have little patience for the healing process; 2) and those who have, but who got stuck in the "victim"/anger stage for a long time, found their way out it, but never forgave themselves for it --- and thus will not forgive others for it.)

THEN it's time to address the rest of the stuff you are discussing. Yes! Absolutely!

But first things first.

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Old 17th April 2011, 5:52 PM   #59
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I disagree with the codependent theory, but I certainly don't subscribe to the "poor me" story. Both are unhelpful, in my experience.

Eve, I think what you're saying has great validity, but my argument is that it's all a matter of timing -- that is, being sensitive to where a person is at in their transitioning out of an abusive relationship.

I also think people need to question their own intention when slapping the word "codependent" on someone. By labeling someone as "codependent," the implication is that you are NOT -- otherwise, one wouldn't have the authority to label. So my question to the person applying the label would be: Are you truly wanting to be helpful by using that word, or is there a form of anger/control being directed toward the person through use of the word "codependent"? I believe one can be compassionate to someone's suffering without falling into pity or its other extreme, judgment.

Personally, I feel that when someone is being hit, slapped and told they are garbage on a daily basis, it's probably legitimate to characterize them as "victims." We live in a world of duality, and words are symbols reflecting that duality, like it or not.

Unlike abusers, "victims" are often very interested in help and transformation. That's well known.

So I balk at blanketing someone with the word "you're a codependent" (code for: you asked for it, baby). It can't possibly help someone trying to pull out of a traumatic situation. In fact, I see it as another form of abuse, no matter how well-intentioned. Attacking someone who already feels attacked only serves to further isolate them in an abusive situation that is profoundly isolating.

We have to meet people where they are. I believe it's crucial for people caught in an abusive situation to be educated on the pattern of abuse and the nature of abusive personalities (often those with personality disorders, IMO). This turns on the light of awareness. Once they see that, they begin to move out of it.

Grieving is a very necessary part of getting out of an abusive relationship, and anger is a part of the grieving process. The anger stage often looks and sounds like "poor me." That's just the way of it. It's necessary though. Once the grieving process completes, integration is next. (Incidentally, it seems to me that two groups of people tend to get offended by those transitioning through the anger stage of grief: 1) those who have never experienced the situation, don't truly understand it and thus have little patience for the healing process; 2) and those who have, but who got stuck in the "victim"/anger stage for a long time, found their way out it, but never forgave themselves for it --- and thus will not forgive others for it.)

THEN it's time to address the rest of the stuff you are discussing. Yes! Absolutely!

But first things first.
I think the use of the term, 'co-dependant' is a cultural thing. Personally I am not used to it's use. I would say that the whole shocking aspect of abuse that makes it so is because of the propensity for someone to buy into an unhealthy mindset. So, I can understand it's use in this respect.

Bottom line. Engaging someone who has probably been raped and given up their core identity through being bombarded with differing levels of abusive actions.. yes, be on their side.

If they are unable to safeguard their children because of the above, they do not come first, the children do.

As with everything there are limits, even to empathy.

I think it is easy to idealise roles. Hence, an individaul approach is paramount but often people do not see the danger they are in and one must not collude if there are others who are vulnerable involved; I believe it takes thirty odd instances of abusive behaviours before someone gets help.. children should not be subject to that.

So, I rationalise two levels of interaction here which must not be mixed.

Take care,
Eve x
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