Am I Imagining the Abuse in My Relationship?
So often, people ask me the question "Am I imagining the abuse? Is it just in my head or is there a problem with my marriage?" Sure, sometimes problems are just in our heads, and we might also make mountains out of molehills. I suppose you could be imagining problems where there are none, and you could be imagining abuse. But if outside of your relationship your judgment seems sane, then I really doubt you are imagining the abuse. More likely, the effects of abuse are messing with you.
You Think You're Imagining Abuse Because of the Effects of Abuse
The Effects of Abuse Undermine Your Perceptions
What is likely happening is that the abuse is causing you to doubt your perceptions, to doubt the abuse is actually happening. Your abusive partner consistently paints him- or herself as the one who knows the truth while you're oblivious to the big wide world around you. Because you love and admire your partner, you naturally consider their opinion - even when their opinion paints you as less than you are.
Over the years, suffering from this type of degrading treatment causes you to seriously doubt "who you are." And, in your confusion, you try to conform to "who your partner thinks you are." Being someone is better than being no one, right? The transformation happens slowly, quietly, until you wake up one day not knowing who you are or who you want to be. You're confused because even though you're working hard to be the partner that you're told you should be, that identity isn't working for you either.
Identity confusion (wondering who we are) leads directly into the abuser's other trick of making you doubt your perception--everything you see, hear, feel, etc. The combination leaves you so mentally wobbly that it is very difficult to see the abuse as real. It's easier to convince yourself that you're imagining the abuse than to believe someone you trust can behave so evilly.
Abuse undermines your perception so you will doubt your identity so abuse can undermine your perception some more.
The Effects of Abuse Make It Difficult to Think Things Through
Is the abuse in your head or is it a marriage problem? Let's think this through: there's you, there's your partner, and there's your relationship (marriage). Three separate entities. Because YOU + THEM = MARRIAGE, for the marriage to be healthy, both of you must be healthy. If one of you is not relating to the other in a healthy way, then there is no way for the marriage to be healthy. So yes, in that sense, there is a problem in your marriage.
And yes, you do have some personal issues to attend to because no one is completely mentally healthy 100% of the time. However, once your marriage is infected, the disease will infect the healthiest partner, too (by far, the healthiest partner would be you).
The thing many abuse sufferers do not consider is that their personal issues were mostly caused (or at least magnified) by the infected marriage. And the infected marriage was caused by your partner. Your partner is the one who wants power over you. Your partner infected the marriage in their attempts to get to you. Your marriage infected you. If your partner can cure themselves (a.k.a. change), they can cure the marriage. If the marriage can be cured, then you can be cured too. If the marriage cannot be cured, there's no hope for you either unless the marriage ceases to exist.
So, You're Not Imagining the Abuse. Now What?
Some people stay in abusive marriages and find themselves feeling better after detaching themselves from the relationship and their partner. You can sort of emotionally quarantine yourself from the infection. You can go along okay like that, but if you are not attached to the relationship or the abuser, then is it really a marriage?
You don't have to answer that question today. You don't have to leave now (or ever). The choice will always be there, and it will always be yours.
But I would very much like it if you and a mentor, counselor, or a volunteer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline could work together to prove to you that your perceptions are valid so you can believe in yourself again. Believing in you is the very best way to inoculate yourself against the infection.
Holly, K. (2013, October 11). Am I Imagining the Abuse in My Relationship?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2013/10/imagining-abuse-in-relationship
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Fact of the matter is that abusive people get what they want when they abuse others. The abuser's method works, and it would take an extremely emotionally and mentally stunted person to be unable to understand that they're hurting others. (You understand this, so obviously, I'm not speaking to you.) Even people with Narcissism know if they care about another person's feelings or not (they don't - symptom of the disease - but they know they don't care).
How can he possibly justify all of this? I am so hurt and so sad as I can't believe after 7 1/2 years a man would just walk away, see other women but in the same breath say "I love you more than anyone I ever loved but we can't live like this until you get help." I can't quit thinking about it all the time. I have done a lot of research and have realized that perhaps I have just been in a narcisstic relationship and was too dumb to realize it.
I was married for 20 years, to a Narcissistic abuser. The abuse I suffered was more mental than physical, but the beratements and control have left a lasting impact on me, and my trust of other people.