Abuse Community

Toxic Relationships: How to Handle Them - Emotional Abuse

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kaybecca: What about in a marriage, when one partner tries to make the other feel worthless all the time?

Dr. Brewer: Kayrebecca, that really sounds like emotional abuse, don't you think? Emotional abuse is just as toxic as physical and sexual abuse and not okay!

tonny: Could you recommend a book about communication skills training?

Dr. Brewer: Yes, there is a wonderful book titled "Couple Skills" published by New Harbinger.

David: One thing I was thinking about, since we are a mental health site, many of the people who visit here have various psychological disorders ranging from anxiety disorder to bipolar disorder to DID and because of that, and the stigma it carries, they find it difficult to break away from any sort of relationship because they are afraid, and sometimes "anything is better than nothing."

Dr. Brewer: It is important to remember that when the "anything is better than nothing," the "anything" is nothing. And a very hurtful nothing, at that, regardless of one's mental health diagnosis, the right to be in a loving and respectful relationship exists. No one should have to endure the pain of a toxic relationship. That being said, it is also important not to blame oneself for having a difficult time of breaking free, if breaking free is the only option. Toxic relationships are often the most difficult to leave.

David: As you were writing your answer, I was thinking to myself that it's important to remember that "breaking free" and the loneliness that occurs is temporary. And it's important to remember that "This too, shall pass."

Dr. Brewer: Absolutely! And what you are freeing yourself for, is a relationship that does not hurt.

David: Dr. Brewer's website can be found here.

slg40: Do you think we are afraid of the pain-free relationship and it might keep us trapped longer in a toxic one?

Dr. Brewer: People do often fear that with which they have no familiarity. What often keeps people in toxic relationships, in addition to the things we've already discussed, is sometimes the belief/fear that "this is all there is." That isn't true, but often that is the fear.

joe rose: Would you say that when one abandons his core values for the sake of maintaining a relationship, or placating one's partner, that this is the beginning of an unhealthy dependency on that partner for the sake of whom one has in a sense betrayed himself?

Dr. Brewer: Yes, self-betrayal is exactly what is going on when we allow ourselves to lose sight of our core values, and of course, we live in a world in which we are frequently encouraged to walk away from our internal value systems.

David: There were lots of people in the audience tonight, Dr. Brewer, who agreed wholeheartedly with what you had to say. Your comments and those of other audience members really struck home. Here are a few of their comments:

CalypsoSun: "This too shall pass!" Yes, sir! And it really does! Thank you, for that comment ;-) You said a MOUTHFUL there, Dr. Brewer! Thanks!

babygirl62: I agree with you, Dr. Brewer, about the emotional abuse being just as toxic as other abuses.

vger2400: They try to make all your decisions and second guess you on everything. We feel guilty when we do something nice for ourselves because we are so used to taking care of everybody else. I guess that is codependency.

punklil: So true!

Dr. Brewer: Ha-ha! Thank you, David, for sharing the comments.

David: Thank you, Dr. Brewer, for being our guest tonight and for sharing this information with us. And to those in the audience, thank you for coming and participating. I hope you found it helpful. I hope you'll visit our main site too. there's a lot of information there: http://www.healthyplace.com Also, if you found our site beneficial, I hope you'll pass our URL around to your friends, mail list buddies, and others.

Thanks again, Dr. Brewer. Good night everyone.

Dr. Brewer: David, thank you! Good night!

Disclaimer: We are not recommending or endorsing any of the suggestions of our guest. In fact, we strongly encourage you to talk over any therapies, remedies or suggestions with your doctor BEFORE you implement them or make any changes in your treatment.

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