Why Doesn’t My Friend Leave Their Abusive Partner – and How Can I Help?

woman hugging comforting her crying friend

You may see your friend crying, hear your friend’s partner make demeaning comments towards them, or notice they seem anxious around or afraid of their partner. Or your friend may open up to you on their own.

Knowing or suspecting that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship can be a deeply conflicting experience. You know it’s taking a toll on their mental and possibly physical health — and you want to help — but you may not feel equipped. You want to swoop in and “rescue” your friend, and yet you know you have to respect their right to make their own choices.

Despite these difficulties, it is possible to support a friend who is in an abusive situation — and often, a good friend’s support makes all the difference. Offering real support means putting our friend’s needs before our own desire to play the hero. It also means learning about the complex psychological effects of abuse.

We can understand the complexities of abuse by answering one common question: If this relationship is hurting my friend so much, why don’t they just leave? Continue reading Why Doesn’t My Friend Leave Their Abusive Partner – and How Can I Help?

How Being in Abusive Relationships Made Me a Perfectionist

gay man in corner abused

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m lying awake listening to the sound of my boyfriend’s light snoring. The box fan is humming softly in the corner. Cool night air blows through the window.

Although I’m happy, I’m also torn. In the dark I debate whether the fan is making enough noise to keep him asleep if I get up to go put away the clean dishes. Half of me is kicking myself for forgetting to do so. The other half is wondering if it’s a good opportunity to also clean the bathroom overnight as a surprise.

I remind myself how lucky I am to have found a good guy. I wonder whether this is business as usual for domestic violence survivors everywhere. I tell myself I’m most likely not as alone and abnormal as I feel. I force myself to fall asleep.

This all sounds weird, but these little debates play out in my head all day, every day. When I shop, I try to find little gifts for him to keep him happy, like a new pair of shoes. Every time I make it home before he does, I try to use those spare moments to clean something. Getting into his car also means clearing out a few bits of trash as I exit. I always make sure he has everything he needs before he leaves for work and his alarm is set before we go to bed.

Sometimes scars make you sweet. Continue reading How Being in Abusive Relationships Made Me a Perfectionist

How to Recognize Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships

How to Recognize Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships

One of my clinical specialties is relationships (and abuse within them). So naturally, many of my clients come to me because they are struggling in their marriage or partnership.

Of all the reasons for a relationship to be in trouble, one that consistently leaves people the most confused and causes the most damage is an invisible form of domestic violence called emotional abuse. Continue reading How to Recognize Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships