Tag Archive: Marriage

Domestic violence happens in intimate relationships or marriage when one person tries to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence includes sexual abuse, but we will take a closer look at that subject on it’s own next Friday. Today, we will take a closer look at the aspect of Physical Abuse. For those just joining in, I am in the middle of a series on the subject of a abuse, and if you wish, you can take a look back at the preceding blogs including Emotional Abuse or Verbal Abuse.  I will discuss Sexual Abuse, Workplace Bullying, and finally, how to break the abuse cycle in the coming weeks.

Domestic violence is used for one purpose: Control. Total control. It takes place in the form of using fear, guilt, intimidation, shaming, put downs, manipulation, threats, and physical harm to wear you down until you submit to the total control, because you have become too tired of fighting it over time.

As I mentioned in my last blog, physical violence in a relationship often isn’t the first sign of abuse. You will likely see the signs of emotional and verbal abuse first, until it escalates to physical violence. Interestingly enough, although the purpose of the one who is abusing is to control and dominate, the very thing that occurs when his anger is aroused to the point of physical violence is the exact opposite – a lack of self control. Each one of us is called to be able to control our own reactions and interactions with others, and restrain our anger from physical and even verbal violence. Although it does not seem so at the time, (because anger is a powerful emotion, accompanied with a powerful sense of control), when a person loses the ability to control one’s own harmful actions towards another, they are out of control. Often physical violence happens for this reason. At the point the one abusing begins to feel they have lost control of the person they are trying to control, that is when the release of violent behavior takes place in an attempt to regain total control.

There are many signs of an abusive relationship, and we have addressed some of those over the past couple of weeks, but to simplify, if you feel a sense of ‘walking on eggshells, or an al or constant state of fear, unsure what you might do next to ‘set him off’, constantly worrying about what you should or shouldn’t say to avoid his wrath, you are likely involved in an unhealthy relationship. If you are belittled, or feel controlled, helpless desperate, or even a sense of self hatred, be careful… You may very well be in a toxic relationship.

Signs that you are in an abusive relationship:

Inner thoughts and feelings

Do you:
Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:
Humiliate or yell at you?
Criticize or put you down?
Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
Ignore you or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
Blame you for their own abusive behavior?
See you as property or a sex object rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats

Does your partner:
Have a bad and/or unpredictable temper?
Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
Force you to have sex?
Destroy your belongings?

Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:
Act excessively jealous and possessive?
Control where you go or what you do?
Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
Limit your access to money, the phone or the car?
Constantly check up on you?

It is still abuse if…

The incidents of physical abuse seem minor compared to those you have read about, seen on tv, or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ form of physical abuse.

The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he/she will continue to physically assault you.

The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!

There has not been any physical violence. Many people are emotionally and verbally abused. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try and understand.

(See http://www.helpguide.orgfor more information on domestic violence).

Despite what I mentioned earlier regarding the abuser’s ‘loss of control’ about his/her physical responses, giving in to that ‘loss of control’ by becoming verbally or physically violent is actually a deliberate attempt to control or regain control. There are different perspectives on whether it is due to a loss of control or not. I feel that anyone who no longer takes the ownership of their behavior and allows themselves to respond out of rage and violence, is indeed ‘out of control.’ But I also believe that when we feel a loss of control and feel rage, what we are doing is trying to regain control by becoming violent. I believe we do not have to give in to our feelings and let them control us. We have a ‘choice’ as to how we react and CAN control our behavior. When we choose not to take ownership of our ‘out of control feelings’ we give in to the illusion that we are not responsible for our actions, and we are consciously choosing to become abusive, and yield to the rage we feel for feeling ‘out of control’ because someone is not doing what we want them to do, so we incite force to make them comply with our wishes. It is a very complicated matter and a fine line between control and out of control, involving cognitive distortions about what behaviors we believe we have control over and what we believe we are powerless over. No matter what we believe, we are each responsible for our own choices. Abusive behavior often comes from not taking ownership of your own thoughts, feelings and actions, and projecting ownership onto others. Engaging in abusive behavior IS A DELIBERATE CHOICE made by the abuser to control. I do not have time to thoroughly unpack the psychology of the abuser’s make up in this blog, but what I have written is a short summary of a more in depth discussion.

Let’s take a quick peek at the cycles involved in domestic violence:

To recap: the tactics used to exert power in a relationship include, domination, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.

The Cycle Of Domestic Abuse:

Abuse – The abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The power play is designed to show you who is “boss”.

Guilt – after abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not about what he’s done. She’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing the consequences of her abusive behavior.

Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he/she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior – everything to avoid taking responsibility for his/her own actions.

“Normal Behavior” – The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. The peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Set up – Your abuser sets up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where she can justify abusing you.

The apologies and loving gestures in between abusive episodes make it difficult to leave. He may make you feel like you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, that he will truly change, and get counseling, and that he really does love you.

If you suspect somebody you know is being abused, look for these signs:

The person seems afraid of, or is anxious to please their partner.
They may go along with everything their partner says, not expressing any difference of opinion.
They seem to check in with their partner about everything they are doing.
They receive harassing phone calls from their partner.
They communicate to you about violent encounters, or talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy and possessiveness.

They may communicate re: excessive injuries that they have had an ‘accident’.
They may frequently miss school, work or social occasions without explanation.
Dress in clothing to disguise bruises or scars.

They may have very low self esteem, be restricted from seeing family and friends, rarely go out in public with their partner, be depressed, withdrawn, suicidal, anxious. They may have limited access to money, credit cards or the car.

Speak up if you suspect someone you know is being abused. Let that person know you care by expressing your concern. It may save their life!

If you are identifying with being abused, and feel your life is in immediate danger, seek help now! Call 911 if you are in danger of being physically assaulted imminently. Don’t wait! Seek help!

I will be discussing in a few weeks how to make the necessary steps to stop the abusive cycle and/or get out if necessary, but please don’t wait until then if you are in imminent danger! Call the police!

Stay tuned for next Friday’s blog on Sexual Abuse. Remember, no action is seen as agreement. If you know someone is being abused and you don’t speak up, you are silently agreeing that the abuser’s treatment of your friend is ok. You are unknowingly, but not deliberately participating in communicating that your friend does not deserve better treatment than the abuse they are putting up with. Say something. Remind them of how much they are worth. Their self esteem is low, you need to be the voice to rebuild their confidence and remind them what loving behavior looks like.

No one deserves to be abused! No one! We all have innate, God given worth. You ARE lovable! And worthy to be treated with love ad respect!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!


If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

I read this somewhere recently, and jotted down a few notes as I found I related to what was said. Sadly, I can’t remember where exactly I got this info, but my gut tells me it is from the authors Dr. John Townsend & Dr. Henry Cloud, PhD, as I read a tremendous amount of their work… But don’t quote me on that!

Here is what I took notes on:

Areas Couples find difficult being honest about:

Desires, likes & dislikes
Anger and hatred
Needs and vulnerabilities

And the barriers to honesty were:

Fear of real closeness and being known
Fear of abandonment and loss of love if they are known
Fears of being controlled and possessed if they are known
Fears of being seen as ‘bad’ or ‘not good enough’ if some part of them is known
Fears of their own desires, needs and feelings.

There is some loaded discussion that can come from that information!

My husband and I recently had a conversation about some of the values that we are freshly committing to in our marriage, as we were reading a book on marriage together, and one of the things we discussed was the absolute need for complete honesty in a relationship, and I can personally relate to the fears that are barriers to that complete honesty. I often fear expressing some of my desires that I feel my husband does not value with me. I know part of it is perception on my end, but actions and tone of voice and expressions speak loudly as well, and sometimes I receive messages from his actions that I allow to cause myself to feel he is unsupportive, and the cognitive distortions run wild believing he does not value my desires. (Admittedly, I currently am speaking of clothes! I’m a bit of a shopping nut! I LOVE purses, and shoes, and jewelry, and clothes… And books. Lol!) My hubby has always been a lot more practical about clothes than I am. This has been a common thread that reoccurs repeatedly, where I feel he diminishes my desire to shop or at least criticizes it. I admittedly, fear that he will control our financial decisions, as my dad did as I was growing up. Jason, (my husband), knows this fear I have. I have been honest with him, but there are times when I see that one shirt I just ‘have to have’ and immediately my gut instinct is shame that he will reject and diminish or refuse to allow me this one indulgence.

On the flip side, I understand what is going on in his mind. We are spending a lot of money on business expenses over the next while, and budget issues and responsibility financially are important values to us both. I know there are other items there as well, but will not reveal his concerns in my blog out of honor and respect for him.

Why I mention this, is that it came up last night. My underlying fear of being controlled, or being seen as ‘bad’ for desiring something I place some level of value on. I know this is a very surfacey and material example, but isn’t that the way it often goes? Couples fight about things that seem to be so insignificant, only to recognize that there is a much deeper issue at the core that is really being exposed and brought to the light!

Looking back up at the list, I am afraid of anger, my own and other’s, again, there are roots to this issue, as well as my fear of disappointing people, or failing. My hubby relates to the fear of failure as well. I fear abandonment or loss of love if I mess up. I fear abandonment even if I don’t mess up! Depending upon the season of my life, I often find myself fearful of being known. Again, there are roots to each of these fears.

It is a good thing if you are able to get these issues out into the open and be able to learn how to exhibit grace to each other’s weaknesses.

I read the following somewhere too, which helps me remember grace when I am angry.

F- Focus
E- Emotion
E- Empathy
L- Leave

It suggests focusing on what the root feeling is beneath the anger and identifying with it. For instance, anger most often is a protective barrier covering over another, deeper emotion. Like hurt, pain, fear of abandonment, etc. In order to redirect yourself away from expressing anger in a harmful way, it encourages you to look at the EMOTION you are feeling underneath. Then as you identify that emotion, sometimes the anger diminishes. The next step is to try and find empathy for your partner, and understand their point of view, or where they are coming from. This also is a tool to help the anger settle into something more manageable and allows for healthy ways to deal with it without brutally attacking your partner’s self worth. Finally, if the anger is pretty massive, LEAVE. Tell your spouse that you need a cool down time to get your anger back under control and tackle it again when it settles. A good rule of thumb is to have an anger action plan. Determine together when you are not angry that you will have a 20 minute or 30 minute cool down period (or whatever you decide and agree upon together). After which, you will check in on your spouse to see if they are ready to resume the conversation. If emotions have not settled, agree to check in again at the agreed upon 20-30 minute period of time. This allows for you both to feel cared about and know that even your anger is not something to be rejected by your partner, but is given a healthy permission period to cool down to avoid abusive speech toward each other. Above all, remember that you love your spouse! This will continue to hack away at the anger and allow your empathy for the other to surface and bring about feelings of compassion and love and help diminish the anger as you continue to look for the underlying root beneath the anger. I am not saying anger is all bad! Please don’t misunderstand! But there are healthy and very unhealthy ways of dealing with it. If you read my entry from last Friday on verbal abuse, you will see ways that anger can get out of hand very quickly.

I am also not saying I am perfect at this by any stretch. In fact I am not -by far! This is a new exercise I am trying myself, to deal with my anger when it comes up.

Being honest about anger is also very important in any relationship. And a person can get very angry when they feel their core values are being attacked or threatened. Any of the barriers mentioned above are often based on your core values of being known, and having a security and sense of permanence and safety, so as not to fear abandonment, it reveals core values about needing love and intimacy, respect, equality, being ‘good enough’ that you don’t need to perform or be perfect and yet, still know you are loved. I’m sure there are many more.

Honesty is much more important than we give it credit. Honesty sometimes hurts, but it the only way to pave a trustworthy, healthy relationship where integrity and love can truly grow and blossom.

Honesty is something I highly value. I believe it is one of the necessary cornerstones of a good relationship. Without it, the whole house you build your relationship on, will crumble. My encouragement to you: be ruthless to value honesty! It is a life (and relationship) saver!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Relationship Coaching Program which will equip your relationship with the tools it needs to grow!


If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

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