Q:

I'm wondering where do I go next?

Hi Jude,

I'm wondering where do I go next? I have been in a relationship with my partner for four years but in the last year the relationship and my partner has changed dramatically. I'm not getting physically abused but the emotional abuse - put downs, name calling. My partner flies off the handle for me even mentioning something that he may not agree with, this is a huge change as he used to be a gentle person, now he's so angry he breaks things in arguments, kicks doors, smashes things etc. In a few days will be sorry but things don't last long and we are back to square one. He has been to a men's support group but it hasn't helped. Please help I'm on the verge of having a break down from all the emotional trauma.


A:

Isn't it confusing when things change as you have described and you have no idea as to why? The good thing is you have accepted that there is a problem and reached out and asked for help. Good on you!!

I want to remind you that none of us are ever responsible for another person's actions so what your partner is doing to you is not your fault and this is behaviour that your partner is choosing to use. Even though you say there is no physical abuse involved, what you are being subjected to is just as damaging and frightening.

There are a number of options you could look at. The obvious one, and only you will know if this is right, is to leave the relationship if you feel that it is not giving what you want out of a relationship and has no future. If that is not an option it would be a good idea to create a safety plan for yourself to have in case of an emergency. From what you have described the environment you are in can at times be extremely dangerous for you in many ways.

The affects from the psychological abuse inflicted on you is tampering with who you are, your self esteem, your self worth, your self value. These continual put downs, the anger he exhibits and takes out on things in your home, have detrimental effects and will slowly destroy you.

Having a safety plan means that you have things in place that can help you if you want to leave if things are turning bad. Examples are having somewhere to go if you want to leave. Is there someone you trust who understands you and sits in no judgement of you who would support you and offer you a safe place if you needed it? Make an agreement with them that if and when you should ever need to you could come to them.

What is your relationship like with your neighbours? Are there any who you could go to if needed? Learn phone numbers of people and organisations who could help you if needed. Put all your important documents somewhere safe and together so if you have to leave in a hurry you know exactly where they are and you can get to them easily. If possible put a little money aside just in case. Keep petrol in the car, again just in case you may need to leave.

Please please remember that the focus has to be on your safety and even though the abuse is not physical it is still damaging you.

There are programmes in every community that women like yourself can attend to help them build their self esteem and understand more about family violence. If you ring 0800 456 450 you will find a list of agencies in your area you could ring, explain your situation and what you are looking for and see what they have to offer. One to one counselling is also available through these same organisations and this may also be a help to you.

There is also always the option of you and your partner seeking help together with this and again only you will know the answer to that. . Are you able to talk to him about how this particular kind of behaviour he is choosing to use hurts and upsets you and how it is making you feel and the extent and severity of it? Would he be willing and open to firstly talk about it, then take responsibility for it, then do something about it? You said that the men's support group hasn't helped so maybe your partner needs one on one counselling first then maybe counselling with the two of you together.

Unfortunately until he can accept that what he is doing is totally unacceptable in every way and is not OK and is prepared to take responsibility there is nothing you can do except look out for yourself. Please remember that we can never make another person change if they don't want to. It has to be their decision, their choice but you have a choice as to how you want to live your life. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, always.

Jude

 

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