Abusive Relationships Kill Your Recovery
Never allow another human being to control you to a point where you are void of self-regard, self-worth, and the choice to make changes. Love that tries to control you through mental and emotional destruction and injury, is not love at all.
Yes, addiction is a disease, but we also know that you can’t discount the situational factors that play into the lives of substance abusers. Instead of trying to peel apart whether or not the chicken or egg came first, the best chances of recovery are found by treating both the person and the situations that they are trying to cope with.
Abused women are 15 times more likely to be addicted to substances. Abuse, like addiction, is a patterned behavior, and the substance abuse is just the tip of the iceberg. Through active addiction, people learn to cling onto these, and other types, of dysfunctional relationships that keep them sick and caught up in the cycles of abuse.
Abusive relationships are commonly defined by jealousy, withholding intimacy, absence of closeness, threats, sexual compulsion, disloyalty, verbal misuse, lies, broken promises, physical brutality, and social isolation. In recovery, there is no room for relationships that keep you downtrodden.
It is important to understand that all violence is not just physical. Psychological mistreatment is just as dangerous as physical violence, however it is usually harder to identify, and recuperate from. Psychological abuse causes long-term self-esteem issues and significant emotional and social repercussions for the victims. It is common for abusers to make grandiose pleas of affection, declaring that they will change, ensnaring you to stay in the dysfunctional relationship. It is a trap that keeps many women from breaking free and reaching their full potential.
Abusive relationships are progressive and continue to deteriorate over time. Not limited to intimate relationships, abuse, and the effects of it, play out in parental relationships, among siblings, friends, etc. Sometimes, the decline of these relationships happens so gradually that it is difficult to see that it is happening at all. However, in times of heightened anxiety (fatigue, stress, intoxication), verbal abuse commonly increases and turns into physical abuse.
Abusers are frequently very controlling, and demand that their partner cater to their needs, first and foremost, forgoing any necessary self care on behalf of the victim. When an abuser fears that they may lose the relationship, abuse escalates in an attempt to keep you down, wounded, and insecure. As a result, victims in abusive relationships are not supported in trying to make positive changes to their lifestyle. AKA, addiction is an easy way to keep you down.
These relationships depend on isolation and a low sense of self worth in order to continue. Without help, these damaging relationship cycles are likely to be rehashed in all intimate connections, even if you leave the current one. The instability that appears in relationships as a result of substance abuse sets a volatile atmosphere that leaves you vulnerable to the demands of anyone looking to take advantage of you.
In recovery, you learn about boundaries, self-care, and healthy communication, while you gain the sober clarity that makes it possible for you to start turning your life, and your relationships, around.
Abusive is a cycle, just like addiction, that impacts family groups throughout generations because the harmful behaviors are seen as ‘normal’ by the family members. Despite any digest and/or frustration with the ‘status quo’ victims are not always guaranteed to break free of the systematic damage done to them psychologically. In fact, a considerable number of abusers, are survivors of abuse themselves. Because the impacts abuse run deep within the mind, it is not uncommon for victims to later become the abuser. In response to their own feelings of inadequacy and misuse, they unintentionally cling to their own victims as a dysfunctional means of making themselves feel better, and the cycle continues.
Learn to Break the Cycle:
It’s a harsh reality to deal with, especially when first wading your way out of addiction, but in order to truly heal and move forward you must carefully consider your options when dealing with abuse on the home-front.
If you decide to stay in an abusive relationship, both you and your partner will require therapy, support, and treatment for the issues that have developed in your relationship, as well as therapy and support for your individual struggles as well. This problem can not be changed by one person alone. Sobriety itself is not a cure-all for dysfunctional relationships, but it IS a necessary first step.
Both partners must make an active commitment to work on repairing the dysfunction. If not, your life, safety, self-worth, and recovery remain on dangerous ground, ripe for harm and relapse. Groups such as AA, NA, SAA, SLAA, and others like Alanon, and CODA, are positive resources that you can utilize free of charge. Recovery for both partners IS possible, but if you find yourself in a position where things are not getting better, or if they are getting worse; getting out of the abusive environment is an important step to self preservation.
If you decide to leave an abusive relationship, you have to be willing to leave completely. There is no small way of ‘kind of’ removing yourself from these types of environments. If you make the decision to leave, you need to be safe about it, and that means really being ‘done’ when you go. Abusive partners often explode after a victim leaves, so it is imperative that you are determined, have support, and prepare yourself for the likelihood that you will be harassed every step of the way.
Abusers become even more volatile when they realize that their ‘control’ over you was an illusion that is now quickly diminishing. Even though you may still have a lot of complex feelings for your abusive partner, ‘detachment with love’ is the safest bet here. It’s important to remember that feeding into their demands is only keeping both of you sick. If you don’t put your personal safety and well-being first, who will?
For more information on abusive relationships, check out the following resources:
Recovery IS Possible!
Maegan Glidden, MS, NCC