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ironhiway's avatar

What are effects of physical and emotional abuse in a relationship? And what can be done to allieviate the effects?

Asked by ironhiway (1370points) December 5th, 2007

I have 2 friends both were in abusive relationships. one went through mandated counseling and it seemed to improve their self esteem and view on life. The other feels that they are not different as aresult of the abuse. Although insecurity and poor self esteem may be a result of something else is there any advice that I can use to improve this persons self esteem. Or what are some of the things I could expect to encounter when interacting with these friends?

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6 Answers

phred78's avatar

This is a very complicated issue. From my personal experience it may take a long time before self-respect and self-preservation builds up again. The thing with abusive relationships is that love diminishes you. You are so in love with the other person that at some point you don’t mind being hurt, because you see it as love. A strange, disruptive, kind of love.
It took me about two years after the breaking up before I became aware that I had no fault in what happened. From then on, it was a matter of building up my self-esteem and concentrating on myself. During that period, friends were vital.
My advice is that you stick around, call now and then, go watch a movie, listen, show them how important they are to you, how you will always be there and support any decisions they make regarding their lives. It’s tough, but most people emerge ok from this kind of situation. It just takes some time, with or without the help of counseling.
Hope this helps :-)

sjg102379's avatar

Unfortuntately, as their friend, you may experience that they are stuck in a pattern that is hard to break; their next relationships may be abusive as well. Be supportive, but realize that you are a friend, not a therapist and ultimately, you don’t have the professional skills needed to help them really address the underlying issues of why they put themselves in this position and how to change. Encourage therapy, although you can’t force someone’s participation.

kevbo's avatar

I don’t recommend it as an across the board solution, but one tack I’ve taken is to repeat back that person’s repetitive, low-self-esteem messages in a manner that is well understood to be loving and joking. My highly unprofessional theory is that it lets them hear the negative words that they think they (perversely) need for validation, while letting them hear how silly those messages sound. It doesn’t stop the messages, and it doesn’t do anything to encourage this person to seek therapy, but it does make them laugh, and I think it helps them cope with those feelings. It’s sort of a foot in the door that lets some of the bad stuff out and keeps them from crashing as often. Maybe it injects a degree of choice as to how to deal with those thoughts and feelings (i.e. you can cry about it or laugh). I have noticed during the course of our relationship, that this person has developed healthier distance and perspective when family dynamics lapse into old patterns.

Poser's avatar

Don’t treat them with kid-gloves. They may be recovering from a bad situation, but they are still your friends. Don’t treat them as if they are delicate or damaged. Really, don’t treat them differently than you would any other friend. Spend time with them. If they look upset or depressed, ask them what’s wrong. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t press the issue, but do what you’d want them to do for you if you were depressed or upset. Bring them a pizza and a movie, or whatever they’re into.

If they do want to talk about it, talk to them about it. Just remember to assure them they they aren’t to blame for someone else’s abuse, and that the only responsibility they have is to protect themselves. Remind them that people who really love them aren’t abusive, and that they deserve better than to be abused.

ironhiway's avatar

I appreciate all the responses so far. The reason I mentioned both friends is because after the one finnished the abuse program she had a different and better view of life and herself. Her abuse had been recent and fresh in her mind. Her and I have little contact but she calls now and then to let me know how shes doing. She’s in a stable relationship with a good guy.

My other friend is much closer. Her abuse occured over 11 years and she left that relationship over 13 years ago. She devoted herself to raising her kids the best she could and avoided most relationships. Her youngest twins recently left home and she has allowed me into her life. Eventhough a long time has passed since the abusive relationship ended I believe her views and some of her actions are a result of the abuse. She does not believe so. Has anyone here been through the type of program my first friend did or been able to encourage someone to go? Our relationship is good though I believe she could benifit from the type of program my first friend went through. Thanks for all your support.

joli's avatar

“She does not believe so”. You can’t solve what you percieve to be a problem for her if she isn’t ready to accept it. Just be a friend and share your views. If she is in victim mode she won’t listen. When she’s ready, she’ll open her eyes and her consciousness will be raised to a level where she can hear you. None of us like to hear where we’ve been wrong, especially when it involves a relationship that was harmful to ourselves due to lack of self-esteem and self-value. We want to hate the perpetrator! Forever!

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