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Understanding How Misconceptions of a Healthy Relationship Lead to Abuse

When we talk about domestic violence, often the attention is brought to physical abuse although preceding the violent behaviour there is typically emotional and verbal abuse. The perpetrator seeks control by constantly criticizing and manipulating the victim which blinds them into accepting the cruel and violent treatment. There are various reasons why a victim may accept abuse however the likely reason may include the misconceptions of what a healthy relationship entails.  

Victims of domestic violence commonly face a great challenge to establish and maintain a healthy relationship especially if they were surrounded by abuse and dysfunctional relations during their childhood. They often misunderstand conceptions of love and affection, believing that it is conditional, temporary and heavily associated with hurt and abuse. Also, they learn to tolerate abusive behaviour and mistakenly presume that those who love them are the same ones who hurt them. This is problematic because in future relationships they are misguided by the belief that to get love they must go through immense pain. Therefore, victims stay in the abusive relationship expecting verbal and physical abuse to be a part of the journey.

The abuser uses tactics that make the victim believe that they are the only ones who truly care for them. The abuse is designed to strip away the individual’s self-esteem, self-worth and independence ultimately making the victim feel as though they are worthless without their abusive partner. The perpetrator uses, a tactic called gaslighting to gain more power over the victim and makes the victim question their reality and if what they believe is actually true. At first, the abusive partner may seem charming and lures the victim by treating them in new ways and at a gradual pace, the partner will start to exhibit unhealthy and abusive behaviours. Then, the abuser intentionally alternates between their good and abusive behaviour to manipulate the victim as the victim has desire for the good behaviour. Consequently, the victim will start to question their own actions, especially if they are being accused for the perpetrator’s abusive behaviour, hence allowing the abusive treatment while believing that they are to blame.

In reality, the victim is never the cause for the abusive behaviour they experience but their false perspectives and abusive partners may guide them to believe otherwise. In addition, it is easy and comforting to make excuses for the onset of abusive behaviour because the victim focuses on all of the satisfaction they received thus far.

Ultimately, the realization that an individual needs to seek help with an abusive relationship comes with the contrast between a healthy relationship and emotional abuse. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize that love is not violent, love is kind and the concepts of love and affection are separate from pain and it can be given and received at no cost.