I don't want a divorce. I love my husband and I try to show it regularly, but he doesn't seem to care. He refuses to talk to me except to tell me everything is my fault — even when he cheats.
This question was posted in a forum on the web some time ago. I keep finding similar questions and although I recognize each of them immediately as signs of a developing abusive relationship, you may not. These are signals I spot and you can learn to recognize also.
1. This is a one-sided relationship. She tries to please him, he refuses to be pleased.
2. He verbally abuses her by telling her that she is to blame for each problem.
3. She accepts his definition of her inadequacy and tries to do better.
4. He cheats and accepts no responsibility for his own behavior. In fact he delegates the responsibility to her. This is also abusive.
5. Despite everything, she still loves him and wants to stay with him.
They have both been in agreement that everything that is wrong with the relationship is due to her inadequacy. She might not have accepted the blame at first but over time and considerable repetition she feels increasingly helpless about standing up for herself.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if he has also convinced her to not have contact with her friends and family. He has probably said that they contribute to the problems in the relationship. Because nobody is left to contradict him, he becomes more and more powerful to her.
At this point, he may even start using physical abuse to reinforce his powerful position with her. He blames her for causing him to lose control. If she threatens to leave he will apologize profusely and promise never to do it again if only she will forgive him and stay with him. He will keep his word for a brief period of time and then the cycle will repeat itself.
This plaintive question on the forum may be the first sign that she recognizes something is truly wrong and is asking for help. Instead of offering advice about improving the relationship, she needs advice about taking care of herself either within the relationship or gathering the resources needed to leave the relationship.
If you've never been in an abusive relationship, it's impossible for you to imagine how difficult it will be to support someone in leaving one. The best thing you can do is encourage your friend to seek professional help.
If you are in a relationship like this – if you've written letters like this or wanted to – you probably need help to understand your situation better and figure out what to do. A good first step is to put the words "resources abused women" into a search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) and call a hot line. The first doesn't work call another until someone can help you find what you need.
Communicate skillfully about sensitive subjects. Http://www.DareToSayIt.com/blog
Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. is a Master Certified Coach and communication expert. Dr. Weiss has spent 35 years helping clients resolve conflict in business and personal relationships.