abuse

Abuse Patterns: The Awakening

By on March 25, 2021

After my last post, I have been pondering how to share the steps of breaking the cycles of abuse. The first step is to recognize the abuse cycle. This is the step to empower yourself so that you can start to recognize the patterning and gain strength to make a change. We can’t make a change if we don’t know it is there.

Abuse is tricky, it is hard to define and is often difficult to even recognize when you are living in it, much less address and break-free. Most often, folks from the outside looking in can see it. In my situation, I was very headstrong, independent and sure I would never fall into the abuse cycle. However, my childhood clouded my adult mind and kept me from recognizing I was still choosing abusive relationships. This is pretty common and how the cycle perpetuates through generations.

There are generally 4 phases of an abuse cycle. There can be cycles within the cycles– and the length of time of the cycles can vary. Just reading that sentence is a little confusing.

4 Cycles

  1. Tension Building– This is the phase after the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship. This is where tension and stress begin to build. This is the phase when the victim is walking on eggshells as not to “trigger” the abuser, and there is a lot of passive-aggressive tendencies from the abuser.
  2. The Explosion– This is when the violence occurs. There are many shapes and forms of abuse. Violent behavior does not always mean physical assault. The abuse can be psychological– a violent outburst, sexual (make-up sex), or any kind of extreme-controlling behavior. Emotional abuse can be even harder to recognize. Emotional abuse can look like extreme possessiveness, jealousy, isolation, guilt-trips, put-downs, or blame-shifting.
  3. Honeymoon Phase- This is the phase of reconciliation. The abuser apologizes for their behavior, swear they don’t know what came over them, and they never meant to hurt you or cause any pain. They shower the victim with love, maybe even gifts, and they appear remorseful, sad, and sometimes even threaten to hurt themselves if the victim wants to leave.
  4. Peaceful/Calm Stage- This is when all is well, and it seems the abuser is “doing their work” to never let the behavior happen again. This is when the victim is holding on to faith that the abuser has really changed and life is looking up. Unfortunately, without extensive help and true sincerity, this is rarely the case. Something will occur to flare up the tension building stage, perpetuating the abuse cycle.

This Cycle of Violence theory was developed by Dr. Lenore Walker, and is used in many therapeutic approaches to teach the relationship dynamics of abuse.

Generational Abuse

The sad fact is, that children growing up in abusive homes have trouble recognizing that their upbringing was abnormal. This is what perpetuates the cycle and unfortunately a high number of these children grow up to be victims or abusers in their future relationships.

Awakening to Make Change

I am going to get personal here. Making a change is hard– sometimes familiarity is a comfort, and sometimes admitting that a relationship has “failed” is hard on the ego.

I am not a professional, and do not claim to be. I am just a survivor and have first hand experience. To make a change, the thing that is most important is that you love yourself enough to remove yourself from abuse. This is the part that has to be nurtured from within, and the next piece of the puzzle is to find support. Loving family, loving friends, and a strong support network can help you find the strength and light at the end of the tunnel.

Know that you deserve love, and abuse of any form is NOT love.

Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1800-799-SAFE

National Dating Abuse Hotline

1-866-331-9474

National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011

Break the Cycle 
202-824-0707


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abuse | emotional wellness

Finding the Strength to Heal from Abuse

By on February 24, 2021

I have been thinking about vulnerability. I’m coming up on the 3 year anniversary of this blog. My intent has been to share a slice of life and finding joy in the motherhood journey.

Lately, I have been lacking inspiration and direction. Today I realized the reason. I’ve touched on my story a few times here and there, but I haven’t really shared the nitty-gritty. The nitty-gritty of how to leave a lifetime of abuse behind and create a positive life of love and healing. This growth is what has created the space to be able to fully experience “joyful motherhood”.

In the past, I have shared the “end result” rather than the baby-steps it took to get to this place of healing. My work now is to share the how-to. This is the vulnerable piece for me. The information came to me in several forms all at once. It was like I hit a place in life and the universe said here, it’s your time. Go do it. Go break the cycle.

I started taking steps– I found the personal development avenues I required to start changing my thoughts, I found someone who was willing to support me and empower me through the change. It was not (and is not) always easy. Luckily, I’m strong willed or determined and my support system knows how get me to activate the right muscles to get it done, lol. I am also dedicated to use my story and my success to help others who need and want it.

Trauma Cycles

The truth is, I have only been free of abuse for 6 years. Abuse is so clouding, I didn’t even recognize I was *still* living in an abusive situation in adulthood because it felt better than my childhood. Denial at its best. I was the master of thinking “if I do this, then our situation will change”. I failed to recognize I needed to love myself enough to completely remove myself from abuse and never turn back. The saying is true, “we repeat what we don’t repair”. This is unfortunate as a mother, because we have the luxury of passing it on to our children.

Abuse leaves nasty scars. It took about 3 years after removing myself from abuse to feel calm and grounded in my new reality. Abuse affects us physically, mentally and spiritually. It damages our self-image, our self-worth, our ability to have healthy relationships, our ability to trust life, trust people, to be fully present and on and on. It causes us to suffer from anxiety, depression, trauma responses, etc. etc.

This is the piece I feel is so truly unfair, and the piece I am passionate about. The scars DO NOT have to dictate our outcome or our level of success (meaning happiness). Life does not have to be a struggle. Yes, we will be faced with struggles. However, overall healing is possible and we can stop the cycles of abuse if we truly want it.

The Mind is a Tool

I had two thoughts I held on to throughout my childhood. #1 was that I was going through this to help others and #2 I deserved more and would have a healthy family as an adult. I had a very clear image of what my “normal” family would look like. Little did I know, that the power of focus on these two thoughts would be my saving grace.

I survived sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, living in extreme drug addiction, and many other labels. I have survived PTSD, disassociation, and have learned to live fully in my body so that I can truly enjoy life.

The details of how to leave, how to pay for it, and how to live beyond survival unfolded. I have been able to keep my son relatively sane and I feel there has been massive healing for him too, so that hopefully he doesn’t have to carry the scars into adulthood.

I’m saddened every day when I think about abuse statistics and the reality of the drug situation in our country. I felt alone when I was young, and now recognize that a huge percentage of the world falls into these statistics. All forms of abuse damages our psyche and creates the baggage that we carry.

Over the next phase of this blog, I will start sharing the ways I learned to manage my mind, pull from my inner strength, love myself, and change my story. If you or someone you know has suffered abuse in any form, please invite them to this page so they can receive this information.

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