10 Ways Relationship Abuse Is Sabotaging Your Life
When in the depths of relationship abuse, you're probably considering how your abuser is sabotaging your life. While being proactive and optimistic are important and beneficial, understanding your circumstances is as well. Relationship abuse commonly consists of many abusive behaviors that are sabotaging to the victim's life, and while not all of the behaviors below may be the case for every abusive relationship, there are certainly many that may feel familiar for different cases. Warning, bleak reality checks ahead.
10 Ways Relationship Abuse Is Sabotaging Your Life
- Relationship abuse disintegrates your self-worth and self-respect. When someone treats you in a way that suggests you are "less than" consistently, it wears you down and you begin to believe you are less than. Not only does your abuser imply he believes you are pathetic by treating you so terribly, if not bluntly saying “you are pathetic,” but you feel pathetic for accepting the treatment and staying in an abusive relationship.
- Your relationships with your family and friends are breaking down. Trying to maintain and control the image others are getting from your relationship is exhausting and humiliating. This is especially true when dealing with the people closest to us because they know us best and know something is simply not right. When you feel yourself dodging social events, ignoring calls and texts, and blatantly lying about your circumstances -- you know your friendships and familial relationships are beginning to fall apart. Commonly at the start of the relationship, when things first start to turn ugly, you may be open with people close to you. As the relationship abuse gets worse and you find yourself deeper entangled, knowing you’re not ready to leave, you may start to pull away and lie for your abuser. You don’t want others to hate him and give you an ultimatum and you don’t want to hear that age-old question, “Why do you stay with him?”
- Your job is not in a stable position. Fights are keeping you from going to work or having you leave early. Arguments may cause a scene on the company phone line or even out front during your lunch break. Your abuser may start to hassle you about the people you work with, especially those of the opposite sex, making you feel uncomfortable interacting normally with your coworkers. You have to make excuses to your boss way more than any normal employee would and you know they suspect something is up. Even working with clients in a professional context has your abuser giving you a hard time. Relationship abuse will weigh on you so heavily you cannot perform your job effectively and constantly worry you’re putting your career in jeopardy. Once you’ve lost your job, you really start to feel like there’s no way out because now you don’t even have the means to care for yourself independently.
- Your potential for growth is at a halt. When you’re engulfed in relationship abuse, your life revolves around that relationship. You can’t take on any new endeavors or invest in your dreams toward a career or higher education because this would threaten your abuser. If you are working toward advancement this is seen as potentially surpassing your abuser and therefore no longer needing them and escaping them with added ease. Typically abusers always find little ways, big ways, subtle ways, and brazen ways of sabotaging any potential for self-growth they perceive as a threat.
- Your quality of life is incredibly low. Your emotions are in a constant state of disarray and you are mentally on a rollercoaster that involves depression, remorse, self-loathing, honey-mooning, denial, happiness, hope, and then back to depression, and round and round you’ll go (The Cycle of Violence Doesn't Tell the Whole Story). You feel alone and alienated from your friends, family, coworkers, and you don’t know the person you once were. You always feel like you’re just not ready to leave even though you wish so badly you would.
- You are losing hope for your future. You feel like you’re so deep in this hole that your abuser just keeps digging, you have no hope to make that climb out. You feel there’s nothing he can do that will convince you to leave and you feel stuck and hopeless. You sense all of the ways the relationship abuse is sabotaging your life. Your bond with him, however toxic, is potent and incredibly difficult to break, in fact, you don’t imagine you can break it.
- You’re missing out on a good relationship. Being with your abuser feels all-consuming, you can’t imagine yourself with anyone else, ever. You probably don’t even wish you could be with someone else but just wish that your partner would treat you the way someone else likely would. You may even fear that if you did find the courage to leave, that dating someone else would only bring disappointment because you’d always feel stuck back where you are now, wishing for change (Abusive Relationships: Devil You Know vs. The Devil You Don’t).
- Your power of personal choice is dwindling. The longer you remain in an abusive relationship, the more you feel you’ve lost your power in the relationship and also as an individual. You stop making choices for yourself and start making choices to adhere to your life’s standards within the constraints of relationship abuse and control. When considering a decision, you start envisioning all of the potential conflicts that could result from the choice you make. You make whatever choice you believe will bring you the least amount of grief and trouble. Your choices are no longer yours, in a sense.
- The way you perceive love is deeply flawed. You probably know you're experiencing relationship abuse and that it is not healthy, but you will likely always defend that at the very least you love one another (Can Love Make Your Abuser Stop Abusing?). You may think that your abuser is just flawed and damaged and that is why he’s so cruel to you but that deep down he really loves you and needs you. This is a flawed perception of love because it is not how love should be; it may feel like love but is more likely love addiction and control.
- You are losing the ability to trust your own judgment. You likely go around and around in your mind, reasoning, rationalizing, and justifying everything that happens within your relationship at one time or another. In the moment, you may feel strongly one way and then when later reflecting back on an encounter start bargaining. You know your life has become something you never meant for it to be and that can be deeply frustrating and confusing.
You Don't Have to Suffer Relationship Abuse
It is always important for me to remind my readers suffering relationship abuse that your life does not have to be this way. This is not a permanent problem, there can always be another option for you. You can make a next move that will have you looking back on this day as the day you decided to change your life. I believe in you.
Sullivan, E. (2018, March 27). 10 Ways Relationship Abuse Is Sabotaging Your Life, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2018/03/10-ways-your-abuser-is-sabotaging-your-life
Author: Emily J. Sullivan
I am experiencing every one of these issues. I knew there was something very wrong, but hadn't had anyone to talk to about the actual reality of my situation. I feel that I can't discuss what is happening, and the reasoning behind my silence is exactly as you have stated in this article. This is the first time that I feel able to untangle all of the convoluted and confusing lies and damaging tactics that have completely destroyed my life. I have felt frozen and lost, worthless and hopeless.
Over twenty years into this relationship, which I believed to be a beautiful friendship that blossomed into true love, and only after moving away from everyone and everything that I had known, and settling in to the small town where he grew up and was related to or knew everyone in the area did the signs of abuse, control, and gaslighting begin to show. Even though I saw some signs, those signs were overlooked as insignificant and pushed to the back of my mind in order to function as I needed to just to get by day to day. Slowly these signs became more and more difficult to ignore and I opened my eyes one day to find that the love of my life was more than just going through a hard time and more of a liar and a narcissist who had absolutely become obsessed with control. I can't remember the last time I felt I could go about my day without constant fear of doing something to "cause" a series of explosive events that could result in my being locked out of the house in the snow, rain, etc., or left on the side of the highway in the night to walk home in the dark. It is now a regular/daily occurrance that I will be called a whore because my boss is a male and that means I am doing sexual favors for him every day for money. I am unable to have even one dollar of my own, as he finds a way to take every cent I make. I have resorted to trying to get gas money by recycling cans, but he will find the cans and take that too. I can not believe I am in this situation and embarrassed about it. I have lost my dignity, my belief in myself and it shows. It shows in everything I do and in the way I interact with people, which in turn is reflected in the way others perceive me. I have only mentioned a few of the things that I have to deal with on a daily basis, and I don't know if I can find it within myself to pull myself out of this. I have no family to turn to and I have no friends because I can't risk having any friends around to see what my life has become. I used to have a very productive and fufilling life in every way. I don't think I am able to get a good job or hold one if I somehow manage to get hired. I barely manage to keep a job as a janitor for 2 hours a day now and when I came into this relationship, I had a job as a case manager (for a battered women's shelter- yes- that's right- a Women's Resource Center) had gone back to college, earning a 3.8 gpa and a healthy scholarship, and was active in theatre. Its almost more than I can face when I look at my life as it has become. I don't know if I can even talk about this honestly in the future because it is so hard to accept and admit. Im worried...I don't know how to leave.