The old adage that love is blind is borne out time after time. People often fall in love with others who actually end up abusing them, either emotionally or physically or both. People identify attractive qualities in another person—perhaps they are physically beautiful, or funny, or demonstrated kindness on some occasions—but over time, as intimacy deepens, darker and harmful traits in the significant other come to the surface.
It is sometimes difficult to leave an abusive relationship because one might have come to depend on the companionship of the abusive partner. The partner may be abusive, yet still provide a degree of support and acceptance and the victimized partner may choose to continue the relationship because of this support. In other cases, the victimized partner might come to see the abuse directed at them by their significant other as appropriate. In other words, they are so enmeshed in the relationship that they lose perspective and they start to see abuse as normal and tolerable.
One needs to recognize the fact that the negative messages delivered by the abusive partner have more to do with his or her own psychological problems than with some lack or defect in oneself. A failure to appreciate someone can sometimes stem from a defect in the person who is not appreciative, instead of from a flaw in the person who is not being appreciated. Some people do not see other people as gifts to be welcomed and embraced. Instead, they can be indifferent, unreasonably picky or see opportunities for sexual gratification or for acquiring a sense of power when they interact with others.
An excellent way to move out and on from an abusive relationship is to come into contact with people who are truly caring. Their affirmation can provide a counterweight to the negative messages coming from the abusive partner, and this can restore the perspective of the victimized partner. They start to see how abnormal the abuse they have been tolerating is and this can initiate a breakup.
Breaking up with an abusive partner is an involved process. Again, because one was in a relationship with this person, there are lingering traces of a strong emotional attachment. It is important to always keep in mind one has been abused in order to avoid sliding back into the relationship. One way to stay mindful of the abuse one has suffered is to record it in a journal.
One also needs to change one’s approach to dealing with problems. While in the abusive relationship, one might have always gone to one’s partner for support. New people need to be found that can provide guidance and consolation in times of crisis so that one does not continue to rely on the abusive partner.
Codependents are particularly vulnerable to abusive relationships. Codependents have low self-esteem, so they are more likely to put up with an abusive partner. After all, how could they get anyone better? They also have poor boundaries, which means that they accept anyone else’s opinion of them as true. So, instead of rejecting abuse from a partner as unfair and untrue, they see it as correct. Codependents also tend to be people-pleasers, to the point that they are afraid to say no to anyone. Codependents can easily be taken advantage of by an abusive partner.