Your intuition tells you when all is well or if something is not right. Your intuition guides you through life safely when developed and used correctly. And therein lies a problem: an abusive relationship disconnects you from your intuition.

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In the video, I mention the vocabulary of abuse. The vocabulary of abuse is the words and phrases that define succinctly the feeling of something is wrong in your relationship. Abuse victims often find themselves in the state of knowing something is wrong, but unable to decipher or describe what that something could be. When you do not know the vocabulary of abuse, you are destined to remain an abuse victim . Keep reading »

Years ago, I bore two sons into my abusive marriage. Young and naïve, I thought my husband would change into a loving man when he felt unconditional love from and for the children. I thought that real love would end his cruelty toward me, and that he and I would create a loving family. I thought wrong. Keep reading »

The prior post discussed the relationship between the abuser and victim, then explored what each partner thinks during the routine. This post digs into the victim’s and abuser’s feelings and behaviors during a long-term abusive relationship. Keep reading »

The routine merges the cycle of violence and abuse phases of the honeymoon and tension-building, and it develops over a period of time. Typically we see the routine only in long-term abusive relationships because it enables both victim and abuser to manage their diseased relationship without expending as much emotional, mental, or physical energy as they did when the relationship was new. (The whys and wherefores of the routine is covered in this post on the routine and cycle of violence and abuse.)

The Routine Creates a Fantasy Relationship

The routine phase of the abusive relationship is like a game of cat-and-mouse that the cat and mouse don’t realize they’re playing. The subtle you do this then I do that movements of the couple are so instinctive that neither participant questions their actions or their reactions to their partner’s behaviors. Keep reading »

Have you read the story of Bluebeard? In short, Bluebeard marries a naïve girl and gives her all the keys to his castle, but tells her to never use the tiny key with the beautiful scroll top. So, of course, the girl seeks the door the key will open. She unlocks the door and sees the dead bodies of Bluebeard’s former wives. In some versions, the girl escapes Bluebeard’s wrath and in others she dies.

Initially, I equated the story of Bluebeard’s wife with myself as a formerly abused woman. After reading Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., I agree with the author that Bluebeard is the voice in our heads that traps us in abusive relationships (and many other foul situations). Keep reading »

The cycle of violence and abuse typically consists of three phases: tension-building, abuse, and honeymoon. The first two phases describe themselves and the honeymoon phase occurs after the abuse and gives the abuser a chance to beg the victim’s forgiveness or otherwise convince the victim to stay. Over time, the tension-building and honeymoon phases tends to shorten or disappear, leaving us to wonder why abusive relationships can last so long. This routine makes staying in an abusive relationship manageable; both victim and abuser come to accept this routine as normal. Keep reading »

We tend to speak of the cycle of violence and abuse as if it were a constantly turbulent system, but we rarely discuss the routine that soothes the volatile system into manageability. The wheel of violence and abuse shows the cycle concisely, but perhaps too narrowly. The wheel shows the cycle as a rolling circle of abuse, honeymoon, tension-building, abuse, honeymoon, tension-building, abuse — visually repeated infinite times with arrows circling around the wheel until we say to ourselves, “I get it! It’s so simple.” Then we feel shocked that victims of abuse exist because the wheel makes the process of abuse so transparent. Despite its powerful (and necessary) message, the wheel simply cannot tell the whole story. Keep reading »

Description of A “Toxic Ex”

A toxic ex is any co-parent who creates a loyalty conflict for your child(ren). Loyalty conflicts occur when your child believes they must choose one parent over the other.
A toxic ex will do things like:

  • Restrict or hinder communication and/or contact between you and your children.
  • Talk badly about you to your children.
  • Erase and Replace You (This phrase comes from Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex and means to “. . . erase you from your child’s heart, mind, and memory and install someone else . . .”).
  • Undermine you.
  • Persuade your kids to not trust you and urge them to betray your trust (the “divide and conquer to maintain control” routine).

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In abusive relationships, the devil you know seems better than the devil you don’t. We go back and forth over leaving our abusive mate, wobbling between fear of them and fear of the unknown. It’s a tricky balancing act, especially when our partner seems to know just when to put on their nice mask. The sweet phases of an abusive relationship add to the confusion and indecision about just what kind of devil we know.

What kind of devil can be so sweet one minute and so nasty the next? And why can they act kind for long stretches and then turn back into monsters over meaningless situations or words? Why do they hurt us? Why do we stay? Will this relationship hurt the children? Can this relationship last? Should I stay to see if it gets better? Should I run and not look back?

Unfortunately, I am incapable of giving you those answers. And honestly, the longer you take contemplating what those answers could be, the longer you’ll be stuck with the devil you know. Keep reading »