Sanctuary and Serenity


Posted on: March 27, 2010


“Abused women aren’t “codependent.” It is abusers, not their partners, who create abusive relationships.”
Excerpt: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft

Rollercoaster Thinking: Our abuser is sweet one minute and raging out of control with bizarre behaviour the next. If ever there was a situation where we can’t see the forest for the trees, this is it. Professional therapy from someone specialized in this field is a good idea.

Stop trying to ‘fix’ them. They have a problem we can’t fix. Only professionals can help them. The prognosis is poor. Working on ourselves is the best fix of all. Let your abuser dial the phone to get help. Reality is knowing this hook to our compassionate nature.

Stop hoping he will return to the “way he was.’ This “magical” thinking is normal for us. Abuse gets worse, not better. Take off the rose-coloured glasses.

Physical Exhaustion: Living with an abuser is physically and emotionally draining to the point we may not want to do anything. Get rest. Detach psychologically and physically from the abuser. If we’re unable to emotionally detach, react angrily or our tactics aren’t working, we may not have had the opportunity to learn the management skills we need to deal with and avoid manipulative abusers.

Substance Abuse: We need to be clear headed. Slow down and stop any use of alcohol/drugs we may be taking to help cope.

Plan in advance to protect your financial base and obtain emotional support. Never stay where there is potential for physical violence — get out fast. Documentation, proof of abuse are essential. Leaving is a dangerous time. Learn the best ways to leave. Divorcing an abuser can be hell unleashed, your preparation will be critical. Learn to work with the lawyers, and child therapists/evaluators who will be helping you. A calm demeanour, proof and documentation are crucial to success. Having that documentation to refer to keeps us refocused on our decision.

Make a list of what nastiness you have had to endure. Refer to it for reinforcement. Inform other people you know will support you. Avoid those who will not. Expect a smear-campaign from your abuser. Work with the police and your lawyer. We conduct ourseves with Dignity, Integrity and Grace calm, factual, and in control.

Our involvement with them causes a temporary suspension of our otherwise good jugement. We need this time to learn, gain perspective, and heal ourselves. This is our best opportunity to learn why we may have allowed ourselves to remain in abusive situations. We all need to accept ownership of the mistakes we may have made along the way. If we must make contact because of legal/custody arrangements, discuss absolutely nothing else. Don’t allow an abuser to bait you.

Therapy: Perhaps we’re attracted to the wrong types, or our urge to help or fix them is strong. If we create ‘excuses’ to avoid leaving, are terrified of loneliness, have abandonment fears or if we think our abuser is all we have, we need therapy. If we’re stuck or unable to progress through the stages of recovery, we need therapy also. Many people face these problems. You are not alone and you are not weak.

If you are in joint therapy, tell the therapist your intention to leave. The therapist will be able to work with your abuser to prepare them. Ethical therapists will not disclose your intentions. A good therapist can help prepare your abuser for the separation.

Don’t sweat the wedding vows…
As Dr. Phil reminds us “You can’t sustain a relationship that is based on deception, lies, infidelity, or other deal-breaking behaviors. This is deal-breaking behavior.” When our marriage has turned into lies, treachery, betrayal and abuse that person has destroyed every interpretation of any marriage vows.

How long does recovery take? There’s no calculation formula. We all heal at our own pace. You will progress through stages of recovery and grief. Recovery means being aware of how we are changed forever by this experience. We can speed up the process by focusing on ‘one step at a time’, and all-out ˜self care”. It takes time to rediscover the person we were before and shape ourselves into the one we want to be. Grieve your lost relationship. Allow yourself plenty of time to wind down from the stress and abuse, and begin the process of rebuilding your new life. Be good to yourself first and foremost! Expect doubts, second-guessing yourself, nightmares, loneliness, post traumatic stress disorder, exhaustion. Journal and/or participate on a discussion site with others facing the same situation. Brace yourself and be prepared to deal with their emotional sniper’s drive-by verbal assault.

We deal with the sadness and regret of our own hurtful words and actions. The nostalgic rememberance of shared intimacies, places, laughs and jokes and the emptiness left by the other person’s absence, the lack of any closure in a normal relationship, and the smear campaign hurled at us not only by the abusers but those fools they deceive. We may face betrayal from our own families and friends because of the deception of these abusers. Coping with the end of our hopes and dreams of the relationships continuing, the loss of an anticipated future.

The reality of their lack of conscience is incomprehensible as we grapple with the realization that someone we loved is incapable of loving us in return. The relationships was only a myth. The shock of this new knowledge and reality that we’re in love with someone with a mental disorder who can instantly and completely delete us from their memory and attach to a new ‘supply source’ and appear happier without us is very emotionally painful.

We are shocked, hurt and angry on discovering Jekyll/Hyde. Expect obsessive thinking and fantasies of revenge and justice. As if that horror isn’t enough, we become aware of their sadism and misogyny. Expect them to try and draw you back into the relationship. Prepare yourself to deal with this emotionally as we prepare to stop their attempts.

Our “how could I have been so stupid”? feeling, and unwarranted embarrassment and shame as it hits us that everything was a set up in their agenda. The shock that we were targeted and our awareness of our naivete. The discovery of serious mental disorders as we learn the false mask of sanity hides their real nature. Learning the incomprehensible lack of empathy in them. Discovering the deception and lies, our exhaustion, and impaired health. Be aware that we may temporarily seem to be developing the very characteristics of the abuser in ourselves.

Realizing our feelings of protectiveness and pity for them were tools they used to target us. Our awareness of our susceptibility in having our nurturing characteristics turned against us by this disordered person, our hate/hope cycles and the realization that we were quite possibly raised in families which set us up to head in the path towards these types of abusers.

We face not being believed by anyone about what was done, being isolated, cut off from our support networks. The inability to warn or even get others to understand. As we learn about abusers, we feel they are lurking behind every bush.

The residue will be an inability to trust again with the innocence we once had. Our gain – the wonderful discovery of our self reliance and an ability to cope with any abuser who may cross our path and finding grace, dignity and maturity in our self discipline, will power and integrity.

Remember, your abuser has a mental disorder. He is what he is. Our recovery must include compassion, understanding, and our refusal to be an enabler or target any more.


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