You Cannot Heal in Abusive Relationships: End the Cycle
Updated: Jan 13
Are you currently involved with one or more abusive relationships? If so, this psychoeducational content can help you to learn the warning signs of harmful relationships. The purpose is to offer you educational information and helpful tips to end the abuse cycle.
According to StopRelationshipAbuse.org, “Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a person. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual, or physical. It can include threats, isolation, and intimidation.”
Who are the perpetrators? They can be your:
1. Father or mother
2. Brothers or sisters
3. Other relatives
4. Intimate partner
6. Ex-partner or ex-spouse
9. Manager or supervisor
Typically, the manipulation, gaslighting, and abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone has abusive or violent behaviors, there are perpetual toxic patterns of control. Physical assault is easier to recognize; bruises, cuts, scars, or broken bones. Whereas, mental abuse, bullying, and sexual abuse can be more insidious. Oftentimes, it goes undetected by the victims, their family members, and friends. Mental Abuse to Gain Power & Control, may include:
2. Harsh judgements
3. Name-calling & Ridiculing
7. Projection & Invalidation
10. Bullying & stalking
11. Deceit & Denial
12. Threats & Violence
13. Lying, Stealing, & Cheating
15 Warning Signs You’re in Abusive Relationships:
1. After habitually hurting you, the toxic person has ‘selective amnesia.’ Suddenly, they claim, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Or “I cannot remember.”
2. They accuse you of doing & saying things that you didn’t do or say. This is a clear sign of projection.
3. They are highly manipulative & sneaky.
4. The abuser will gaslight you & make you doubt your own sanity.
5. They will try to make you feel guilty or ashamed in effort to blame-shift you.
6. They’re pathological liars & constantly cover up the truth.
7. They lack empathy and remorse for abusing you.
8. They accuse you of being the crazy one!
9. Typically, they have a Jekyll & Hyde persona. One minute they’re super sweet to you, but the next minute they’re cussing you out.
10. They have abrupt mood changes & emotional dysregulation. You walk on eggshells.
11. During an argument, they use physical force to hurt you.
12. They have extreme jealousy of you, your other relationships, including with your friends, family, pets, your children, & anything positive happening in your life.
13. The toxic person is very controlling of you, your life, your health, your job, your appearance, what you wear, etc.
14. They punish you for setting healthy boundaries. They continue to disrespect you & your boundaries.
15. They play the ‘victim card.’ If anything goes wrong, they say it’s your fault. Oftentimes, they accuse you of being the offender when it’s THEM.
All forms of relationship abuse are extremely traumatic and painful. Please know that if someone has abused you in the past or they're currently abusing you, it is not your fault.
Despite the lame excuses of why someone hurt you, relationship abuse is not caused by alcohol, drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG.
Ultimately, it is the perpetrator’s choice to be abusive. We must hold the abusers accountable. It sends a clear message to others that abuse will not be tolerated.
You cannot heal if you are in an abusive relationship. You cannot heal in the same environment where you got sick and traumatized. Have the courage to end the cycle of abuse.
If you're in an abusive and/or violent relationship, it's common to experience:
Revved up central nervous system
Body flooded by cortisol
Anxiety /Panic attacks
Painful physical symptoms
Insomnia (Wired & Tired)
Drug, Alcohol, Addictions, or Substance abuse
Dissociation is linked to abuse and trauma; one-time events and long-term experiences. It is a coping strategy the brain uses to manage severe trauma and life after the initial traumatic event.
Dissociation is a mental process where a person disconnects from their mind, thoughts, feelings, memories, and their sense of identity. During trauma, some people may have an ‘out of body’ experience. This is our body and brain trying to protect us from danger.
We automatically go into survivor mode. Oftentimes, our bodies and minds are on high alert. Even after the abuse or trauma ended.
We can't heal if we are stuck in survival mode, which is why it's extremely important to educate ourselves about abuse and how to recover from our traumatic experiences. We may find ourselves battling fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. This is a normal and common trauma response. Even if we hope to forget about our traumatic experiences, our body and brain will never forget it. Our body and brain will remember. It can show up as triggers, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, insomnia, physical pain, and feeling unsafe.
Chronic Pain is Linked to Abuse & Trauma
The statistics linking fibromyalgia and trauma are shocking. According to the Institute of Chronic Pain, “Upwards of 90% of women with fibromyalgia syndrome report trauma in either their childhood or adulthood and 60% of those with arthritis report such a trauma history.”
One study looked at 385 people over the age of 60 years old who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The results speak loud and clear:
· Over 70% of women and 67% of men had experienced trauma.
· Over 50% of women and 60% of men experienced neglect and abuse.
· Over 54% of men and women had experienced physical abuse.
· Almost 50% of women had experienced sexual assault.
It is no surprise that in 2008, I was diagnosed with primary fibromyalgia. Not just once, but twice after thorough medical testing. Regardless of this diagnosis, I am well aware that fibromyalgia is a manifestation directly linked to my past abuse, compounded trauma, and Complex PTSD. Rather than get caught up with symptoms, I look at the big picture. Trauma is stored inside our bodies, minds, and each of cells. This is cellular memory and epigenetics. Also, this is connected to energetics because trauma is negative energy inside of our body.
To learn about energy, the subconscious mind, and how it significantly impacts our lives, our health, and our ability to heal, check out my recent blog post. Here is the link: https://www.danaarcuri.com/post/the-missing-link-to-the-trauma-recovery
Fibromyalgia and trauma don't define me. It will not dictate my life, my dreams, my health, my relationships, nor living out my soul mission. What I have learned in the past five years is that trauma is trapped energy and negative emotions inside of my body. The biggest healing breakthroughs that I've experienced, include pure essential oils, a healthy diet without gluten, herbal remedies, ending the cycle of abuse with each of the perpetrators, educating myself about holistic modalities, practicing somatic embodiment, learning how to calm my central nervous system, energy healing, understanding the subconscious mind and learning how to improve my beliefs/thoughts, daily positive affirmations, writing my fifth and sixth books was very therapeutic for me, having the courage to break the silence, therapy/coaching with trauma-informed professionals, practicing self-care and self-compassion, doing inner child work, doing the grief work, investing in my trauma recovery, and gentle stretching/exercise.
Bessel A. van der Kolk, who is an author, trauma educator, and psychiatrist brings’ wisdom, understanding, and insight into how trauma impacts the body, mind, and brain. He is the bestselling author of the book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
He wrote, “The trauma caused by childhood neglect, sexual or domestic abuse, and war wreaks havoc on our bodies. Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from themselves.”
One concern for the chronic pain community is when they rarely address the connection to trauma. The average person doesn’t realize how past abuse and trauma can later manifest itself into full blown medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia.
Instead of considering the root cause, they mainly focus on symptoms, prescriptions, and invasive procedures, which can directly lead to secondary symptoms and further complications. It is unfortunate that this can turn into a vicious cycle. Perhaps, it’s time to jump off the medical merry go round?
Unresolved abuse and trauma can hinder the healing pathway. Denial is a maladaptive coping mechanism, which is unhealthy. It keeps the patient stuck. We must learn that if we ignore, minimize, or bury our trauma, it will continue to haunt us. It is a form of self-sabotage.
We must not pretend that our abuse didn’t happen. Even if the perpetrator was your sibling, mom, dad, spouse, clergy, or intimate partner. We must not try to ‘move on’ or ‘just get over it’ without facing it.
If you bury your pain, how can you resolve the core issues of your trauma? Running or numbing from your pain is not the least bit helpful. It will keep you going in circles and amplify your agony.
It makes more logical sense to unravel the root of the problem. To resolve the core concerns. To have the courage to dig into the depth of your soul to acknowledge your trauma, address it, and confront what is hurting you.
Dr. Gabor Mate’, who’s a bestselling author, speaker, physician, and trauma expert, stated, “The attempt to escape from pain is what creates more pain.”
If you are still hurting from past abuse, I ask you to consider talking to at least one trustworthy person. It can be a close friend, family member, trauma-informed therapist, psychologist, or a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach.
Another therapeutic method is to journal. To write where it hurts in a vulnerable way. To write what upsets you, disturbs you, angers you, grieves you, and what has traumatized you. To let the tears flow. To write truthfully and honestly about those who have deeply harmed you, including the narcissist and/or other perpetrators.
It takes great courage and strength to acknowledge, confront, and process your trauma. To admit to yourself, “Yes, it did happen. Yes, it really was that bad.”
How to End the Abuse Cycle
Regardless of who the perpetrator is, it is vital that you understand the toll this is taking on your body, mind, health, relationships, and overall quality of life. In a nutshell, here's what the abuse cycle can look like:
TENSIONS BUILDING - There is a breakdown in communication, tensions build, increased anxiety and stress, imbalanced central nervous system, and being flooded by cortisol and other hormones. The abuse victim becomes fearful and terrified for their own safety. It's common for victims to be thrown into fawn mode (people-pleasing the predator), fight, flight, or freeze response.
INCIDENT - The perpetrator will manipulate you, gaslight you, stalk you, threaten you, and this could lead to more abuse. The abuse could be physical, psychological, financial, sexual, spiritual, or all of the above. The abuser blame-shifts and accuses you of being the perpetrator. (Projection/invalidation) The predator uses intimidation, violence, rage, and other destructive behaviors to try to control you. Their motive is to overpower you.
RECONCILLIATION - The perpetrator suddenly has "selective amnesia." They pretend that nothing is wrong. They are playing mind-games with you by acting syrupy sweet, giving you gifts, and playing nice with you. DON'T FALL FOR IT! This is only to manipulate and control you. The abuser will try to apologize with you or claim that they love you. ABUSE AND GENUINE LOVE CANNOT COEXIST. After reconciliation, the perpetrator will start arguing with you, again. The abuse continues. It may be amplified at this point in which your life is in grave danger.
CALM - This is referred to as the "honeymoon phase." When your relationship with the predator may seem like everything is okay. Yet deep down inside, you know that you are not safe with this person in your life. Some victims will let logic override their gut instincts. ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INTUITION BECAUSE IT DOESN'T LIE. Please be aware that just because the abuse has temporarily stopped, it doesn't mean that the predator won't be violent or abusive, again. And so the cycle goes on and on and on.
Options to End the Abuse Cycle
· Seek emotional support with a licensed therapist, psychologist, or Certified Trauma Recovery Coach.
· Speak to at least one trustworthy person.
· End toxic relationships with abusive people.
· Contact your local authorities and/or an attorney.
· Get a restraining order if you feel unsafe or if someone threatens you.
· Document what they say and do. One never knows if they will land in court. The documents are your evidence that yes, the abuse did happen. And yes, it really was that bad.
· Call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Child abuse, narcissistic abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual assault, toxic siblings, dysfunctional families, and coercive control are directly linked to trauma. Dr. Peter Levine sums up trauma perfectly. He said, “Trauma is perhaps the MOST avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood, and untreated cause of human suffering.”
Regardless of a lack of emotional support, education, training, and/or understanding about trauma, all survivors deserve to heal. Each survivor deserves to be heard. To be seen. To be believed. To be validated. To be treated with dignity, empathy, and respect.
We each have a story. May my book Soul Rescue inspire you to raise your own voice. To not permit others to silence or shame you. To stand up for yourself. To do what you believe is right. To create boundaries. To become proactive in your own personal healing.
No matter what you are struggling with today, have hope for your trauma recovery. Learn to advocate for yourself. Seek credible education about trauma, chronic pain, and CPTSD. It can empower you. It may be the healing balm to set you onto the right path for your recovery. You are worthy of healing. I am cheering you on!
You cannot heal in the same toxic environment and abusive relationships, which deeply hurt you. Healing requires you to name the abusers. To acknowledge it. To address it. To face what they did and said to you. To love yourself enough that you bravely reclaim your life to rescue your own self.
I have been working with abuse and trauma survivors for over 1 1/2 years. In my professional experience as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coaching, 100% of my clients have suffered abusive relationships.
In 95% of the cases, it was by one or more family members. At least 95% of my clients have suffered either narcissistic abuse, sibling abuse, sexual abuse, or two of these types of abuse.
I think the most beautiful thing in the world is watching the light come on in someone's eyes after they've been in the dark for so long. It has been incredibly rewarding and humbling to observe amazing improvements in my client's health and lives after they have been working with me in my coaching practice.
For those who are in an abusive relationship or if you have cut the ties to the perpetrator, it is important for you to seek emotional support from a trauma-informed professional. If you are interested in working with me as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, I am here to offer you safe space to unpack your trauma in a nonjudgmental way. Feel free to inquiry about my coaching services here on my website. Best wishes to you and navigating your healing journey.
NOTE: Today's blog post included content from my sixth book, Soul Rescue: How to Break Free from Narcissistic Abuse & Heal Trauma. If you would like to read my book, it's available on Amazon in paperback and an eBook. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Rescue-Break-Narcissistic-Trauma/dp/0991076893/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1637964686&sr=8-1&pldnSite=1
PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES FOR ABUSE & TRAUMA SURVIVORS:
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, & Mental Health – Their mission is to develop and promote accessible, culturally relevant, and trauma-informed responses to domestic violence and other lifetime trauma so that survivors and their children can access the resources that are essential to their safety and well-being. They provide training, support, and consultation to advocates, mental health and substance abuse providers, legal professionals, and policymakers as they work to improve agency and systems-level responses to survivors and their children. Their work is survivor defined and rooted in principles of social justice. http://www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org/about/
National Domestic Violence Hotline – The National Violence Hotline is a nonprofit organization established in 1966 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They provide lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live free from abuse. Hotline: 1-800-799-7233, https://www.thehotline.org/
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) – They are the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sex Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that predators are brought to justice. Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 https://www.rainn.org/
Assaulted Women’s Helpline – This Canadian organization offers a 24-hour telephone and a TTY crisis line to all women who have experienced abuse. They provide counseling, emotional support, information, and referrals. The helpline is dedicated to working towards equality for all women. Hotline: 1-866-863-0511 http://www.awhl.org/
Male Survivor - Every man who has experienced sexual assault or abuse deserves access to a judgment-free space where he can heal on his own terms and without shame. For 25 years, the website MaleSurvivor has fostered a healing community where tens of thousands of men from more than 200 countries come together to find support, information, and most importantly, hope. Contact them at MaleSurvivor, P.O. Box 276, Long Valley, New Jersey 07853 https://malesurvivor.org
Anti-Bullying Network – The Anti-Bullying Network was established at the University of Edinburgh in 1999 with funding from the Scottish Executive to provide free anti-bullying support to school communities. In the first eight years that it operated on this basis, the Network gained a national reputation for the high quality of the services it provided to school communities. The Anti-Bullying Network is now an independent operation with the following objectives:
to support anti-bullying work In schools;
to provide a free website;
and to offer an anti-bullying service which will include the provision of training, publications and consultancy services.
firstname.lastname@example.org and https://www.antibullying.net
Stop Bullying Foundation – They are dedicated to raising awareness about bullying and looking for ways to stop bullying through education and art. Their intention is to bring an anti-bullying program into schools to change the bullying dynamics that goes on in communities everywhere. https://www.stopbullyingfoundation.org
The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (SPARC) – They are a federally funded project providing education and resources about the crime of stalking. SPARC aims to enhance the response to stalking by education the professionals tasked with keeping stalking victims safe and holding offenders accountable. SPARC ensures that allied professionals have the specialized knowledge to identify and respond to the crime of stalking. https://www.stalkingawarness.org
Protection Against Stalking – They believe that every victim of stalking should have the support and protection they need, including access to a locally based specialist stalking advocate service. They understand the harmful effects of stalking on peoples’ lives. They are committed to raise awareness of the signs and educating about the benefits of early prevention, while supporting victims of stalking in all communities across the UK. https://www.protectionagainststalking.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – 1-800- 273- 8255 http://www.afsp.org/
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) - http://www.suicideprevention.ca/
International World-Wide Suicide & Crisis Hotlines -
National Suicide Hotlines USA – 1-800-784-2433, Deaf hotline: 1-800-799-4889