[Does it even matter?] We have an abusive relationship. The rest is probably semantics…maybe…
Here’s the roundup of the answers from an Emotional (psychological) Abuse Test:
The great majority of the time I:
- feel afraid of my partner
- avoid certain topics out of fear of angering my partner
- wonder if I’m the one who is crazy
- feel emotionally numb or helpless
- walk on eggshells
- feel that I can’t do anything right for my partner
Rarely do I:
- believe that I deserve to be hurt or mistreated
Things that H does often (some are executed very, very subtly):
- humiliate or yell at me
- criticize me and put me down
- blame me for his own abusive behavior
- views me as property or a sex object, rather than as a person
- explodes because of his bad and unpredictable temper
- control where I go or what I do
- keep me from seeing my friends
- checks up on me
Things that have happened in certain circumstances (more than once):
- treated me so badly that I was embarrassed for friends and family to see
- acted excessively jealous and possessive
- limited my access to money (by being the watchdog on the accounts and constantly checking charges)
- ignored or put down my opinions
Has never happened:
- hurt me, or threatened to hurt or kill me
- threaten to take the children away or harm them
- threaten to commit suicide if I leave
- force me to have sex
- destroy my belongings
- limit my access to the phone or to the car
I can only change what I own in the relationship. I no longer believe that I have to do the work for both of us [because of a fear that it won’t be done if I don’t]. I recognize that a potential outcome of my work to overcome my codependency is the danger that I will lose this relationship or that it will not get better. I haven’t fully accepted that, but at least I can see it.
Despite all of these things, I cannot use the word “abusive” with him. He is likely a narcissist of some sort and I use cautious language by design. I am not that kind of doctor. I have no business diagnosing him. However, based upon observations and a desire to understand what I am dealing with, coupled with repeated comments by my therapist (who also has no business diagnosing him w/o seeing him), I tend to think the behavior descriptions fit quite well. This makes me feel both validated and terrified.
I cannot tell him he needs to get help because it will backfire and I do not want to subject myself to more abuse.
I cannot tell him his behavior is abusive for the same reason.
If he is, in fact, a narcissist, none of my pleas will matter anyway. Pleading my rationale or trying to explain it will only cause me more suffering, which I cannot/should not take up.
What I’m realizing is that outside of my relationship with H, I am a whole person. I am quite good with boundaries and assertiveness. I have no problem having difficult conversations with people. I do not try to please people but I do try to do the right thing for all involved in whatever situation is presented. Generally speaking, nobody outside of my family/H’s family treats me with disrespect and if they do, I’m quick to put up an effectively communicated boundary.
I’m capable. I’m equipped. I’m not a total mess…
…except for within the context of this/these relationships.
(Dude[ette], here’s your freakin’ neon sign from the Universe. What else do you need? Seriously.]