The Truth about the Cycle of Abuse

I was going to write this blog from the perspective that I was in an abusive relationship with my partner, and he was the perpetrator, and I the victim. I genuinely believed this, at least, until… I started getting really deeply honest and truth-full with myself.

What I have discovered (or uncovered), through simply being willing to feel deeply, is that I have, in fact, chosen to be in abusive relationships all my life… and that the abuse was not first and foremost coming from anyone ‘out there’ but rather, it has been first and foremost coming from… ME!

I personally have had a pattern of focusing intensely on my partners and my relationships. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe ‘being’ and bringing our ALL in our relationships IS a healthy and absolutely necessary thing to do – but I have lived many relationships in a way that focused on ‘their’ issues, ‘their’ faults, and ‘their’ shortcomings. This has been a BIG DISTRACTION from facing, feeling and healing the deep hurts in me and acknowledging how those hurts translate into non-loving expressions, blaming others and behaviours within my relationships.

That brings me to now, eight months into the relationship I am currently having with a beautiful man, whom I adore… and the cycle of abuse is still felt equally as acutely as I felt it way back in my early twenties when I was in a physically abusive relationship. Although my partner doesn’t hit me, or yell or scream at me, I have discovered a cyclical pattern within our relationship that feels very old and very familiar!

What I had previously focused on was what my partner ‘did wrong’ or ‘didn’t do right’ and hence, from where I was looking, it was easy to notice when he was grumpy or venting his frustration and stay stuck in the ‘he did me wrong’ victim story! But what I hadn’t read, or rather taken FULL responsibility for, was how I was being and expressing in every moment.

I am blessed to have a partner who took the time to express to me the other day that he felt that I had glared at him with daggers when he was sitting on the bed and I was putting our youngest daughter to bed and when I said “I would like to be sitting down and relaxing too!” he felt that this statement had come loaded…. It did!

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about berating myself either – as I may and often do have very valid points to express, but on honest reflection of this occasion I was able to feel and acknowledge that how I had expressed had come loaded with victim or martyr energy; already resigned to the belief I would neither be met nor supported!

So in this scenario, I expressed in a less than lovely way, my partner reacted in a less than lovely way and voila – cycle of abuse played out.

The understanding that I am coming to is that to truly heal and put this cycle of abuse to rest, Once and For All, we must deeply and honestly look into how we are and have been, firstly with ourselves.

I have found that how I have been with myself is always at the root cause of what is reflected back to me and I now know the very step I need to take to break the cycle of abuse. That step is to take full responsibility for the loving, caring of and nurturing of myself and that requires me to be willing to feel and honor myself in full.

So, if I am really honest, how have I been treating myself?

Have I listened deeply to what my body truly wants? Have I rested when tired? Have I eaten nourishing foods when hungry? Have I moved gently in a way that honors my body deeply? Not always. Not even most of the time.

And, if I have not listened to and respected how my own body has asked me to be with it and treat it, how can I possibly expect another to?

I have stonewalled and neglected myself in millions of subtle little ways throughout my days. I have felt needy and empty and I have gone to my partner, my kids, my friends, co-workers and alike with this emptiness and said ‘fill me up’. Fill me up, because I haven’t been willing to do it for myself!

The unspoken deal in these relationships has been “I’ll give you what you need, if you give me what I need.” An arrangement.

When I have made my partner’s issues the focus of my ‘love’ attention and ‘care’ – rather than responsibly choosing to love, honour and care for me – it has been super-imposing! The not-so subtle message sent is, “You need me to care for you, because you aren’t capable of doing it for yourself!” Ouch!! Is it any wonder my partner feels like pulling away?! When we give from a place of neediness with the underlying intention to get something back, it is not actually a true expression of love but rather it is manipulation.

Each one of us can have very different ideas of what constitutes abuse within a relationship…

Most of us agree that physical violence is abuse… and yes, I have and would absolutely  advocate saying “no” to and walking away from any relationship that condones such behaviour. But what about neglect? What about stonewalling someone? What about the occasional swear word said in the heat of the moment? The silent treatment? Venting our frustration? Do we acknowledge these as abuse? Where exactly IS the line in the sand?

What about refusing to care for yourself deeply and expecting (or manipulating) someone else to do this for you? Does that constitute abuse? Absolutely.

The fact is that anything less than LOVE is actually abuse…

We have been sold a very skewed message of what love actually IS!! We have been told that love is something reserved for a particular person or group of people whom we hold above all else. But the truth is…

Love is actually who we are!

And it is our responsibility to hold, honour, cherish and nurture that quality in ourselves, moment-to-moment and day-to-day! When we accept this responsibility we can begin to heal, and when we begin to heal and let go of what isn’t truly who we are, we are able to truly meet another from our fullness.

Without needs, without expectations, a true relationship can blossom: based on the true relationship that we’ve taken the time to nurture with ourselves, first!

I am not perfect in this practice, but I am committed.

Thank you to Serge Benhayon who was the first man who met me from this absolute unwavering place of total self-responsibility, and as such is one of my greatest inspirations.

by Anon, Melbourne, Australia 

Further Reading:
Why Did You Stay? An Insight Into Abuse
Abuse – My Understanding So Far
Self-Abuse Under the Umbrella of Making it Right

767 thoughts on “The Truth about the Cycle of Abuse

  1. Could it be our relationship starts with God then we lose our way and returning back to God starts with being honest with our-self as we return to a ‘true’ relationship with God? So being honest is it in being true to our-self first so that we can then become all about us looking at what serves us then everyone equally? Then a relationship starts with self so that we start to Self-Love approach to all we bring to every situation to the best of our ability. For me this started slowly with the gentle breath meditation for even self-love was to big a step from the abuse I was living in! Starting slowly is at varying speeds as everyone has to relearn what it means to be at-least gentle in every aspect of our lives. As we bring gentleness to our life we are learning what it is to be gentle, then we can start to be self-loving, which is the stepping stone to Love. Once a certain understanding is obtained we start to bring every area to a deeper relationship as different attributes adjust. Because some areas need to be in the learning curve of being gentle, while others are ‘glorious’ in the amount of Love that we can share, while on our return to a true relationship with God.

  2. It seems that people are so used to abuse occurring everyday that it has become normal and everyday. It’s accepted as part of life because we have not said no to it being in our lives.

    1. What we call from ‘normal’ is far from being normal when we start with the fact that we are love. It is only when this is our true marker that anything less than love stands out. But to feel and see this in full we 1st have to live our lives based on love, otherwise we will gage abuse based on the quality of life we are living.

  3. A fresh and honest look at abuse in our relationships to ourselves and others! You share that we do need to take responsibility for loving ourselves first and then others.. To make changes it starts with ourselves first!

  4. It truly is every person’s self-responsibility to live lovingly irrespective of how another is living, for this is the only way to completely extract ourselves from abuse…

  5. It is so easy for us to look at what is not working in someone else…and we neglect what we can choose different or change. It is not weak to be honest about what we bring that does not support others,it is empowering, a different perspective on this can shifts habits of a life time…

  6. ‘I am not perfect in this practice, but I am committed’, how awesome is that. To be committed to unraveling the abuse we allow with ourselves and all others. I’m struck that if the first thing to do when we encounter abuse is to check how we are with us, and consider how we’re honouring us, and it’s a great flag to ask us to go deeper. We do not in any way, shape or form accept any physical abuse but it’s that more subtle and sometimes not so subtle abuse we allow, and how in fact we may even invite it by how we treat ourselves. So today I’m reminded to go deep and unpick my own abuse.

  7. It is interesting that when we had small children and I would see my partner relaxing or doing what he felt to do while I was at the beck and call of four young children I would get frustrated with him instead of being inspired to be that myself. I came to the conclusion in the end that I was in fact jealous of my partner’s ability to be more detached than I was when it came to the children and more able to claim space for what he needed to attend to where I didn’t even consider it an option! This is self imposed abuse.

    1. I recognise that one Kathleen, and I used to get very resentful because I felt like I had to do everything around the house, but in actual fact it was my choice to take it all on – like you say ‘self imposed abuse’. These days if I want others to help, I ask for it and there is never any resistance.

    2. I too recognise this one kathleenbaldwin. I remember not feeling entitled, so I would get very resentful if others took time for themselves in our household. Now I give myself permission to stop if that is what I need, and will also ask for help.

    3. That’s a great point Kathleen and I like the term “self imposed abuse”, it’s very honest which means it can lead to true change.

    4. Great to read it for what it is, and to know that if/when another attacks us for behaving in a certain way, that what’s most important to read are not the words but the energy they come with. The words might have a element of truth to them, but if we have any picture or need of how we need the other person to be for us, it distorts our ability to read what they’re saying and determine if it’s true, or not – and whether it’s their stuff, or mine, or both, to look at.

  8. Thank you for being so honest anon. Last night I thought I was annoyed at someone, but it didn’t take long, once I was prepared to see my part in the scenario, to see that it was me I was annoyed with. Our choices, even if we have to look 50 steps back, bring us to the point we are at. Now, rather than criticise myself, I am reflective and curious about my choices and simply keep reviewing them.

  9. It’s very easy to abuse others when we abuse ourselves first. Only when we come back to ourselves, the true love is possible

    1. We will never see the abuse of others and within society if we are desensitised to it and indeed living it ourselves.

  10. I agree that if we don’t look after ourselves even in the smallest of ways that constitutes self-abuse. For me this comes down to moving my body harshly, neglecting to exercise or over eating. When even these things are taken care of my body becomes so much more vital, alive and I feel much more joy.

  11. It is interesting that when we look past all the blaming and the resentment of what another is or is not doing, we often come back to the fact that we ourselves are not being loving with ourselves or with others.

  12. Sometimes I focus on other people’s amazingness and lose sight of my own. This is a distraction. Because focusing on anything outside of ourselves, whether it is blaming or appreciating, we are still not looking at what we can take responsibility on. Putting anyone or anything on the pedestal is a need, a comparison, a non-equality in the expression of love. I got reminded of this and stopped. When I stopped to feel my own power, nothing can touch me and there are no games of hurt, this is the power I do not want to feel.

    1. So true that overly focusing on what another brings is also a distraction. Any form of making ourselves more or less than another is just an outplay of undealt with issues and hurts, things that we haven’t resolved. We do this in our relationships with people, but also how we relate to work, projects, commitments.. if we’re not seeing everything as being of equal importance, putting the work above ourselves, for example, it creates a disharmony that distracts us from being all that we are, and affects everything around us.

  13. This is so, so powerful to read, thank you again for this wonderful sharing. There are so many lines I could highlight, but for now it’s this about love, and how it is “our responsibility to hold, honour, cherish and nurture that quality in ourselves, moment-to-moment and day-to-day!” This is so very true and your words about Serge Benhayon as the first man who met you from this “unwavering place of total self responsibility” really sums up the power we can be for others when we too choose to live the responsibility of love.

  14. Being willing to open ourselves up to a deeper level of honesty with ourselves and others is key to meaningful connections and true Love in our lives.

  15. “already resigned to the belief I would neither be met nor supported” – In how many interactions do we truthfully give space to the other person to be who they are, express without restriction and genuinely communicate love? When we have expectations that people will act or be a certain way this actually restricts and determines what the relationship can be.

  16. This stunning blog unlocks so much about the Love and relationships we have – but it is even bigger than that. For what you share Anonymous pertains to the whole of the world and all the wars and terror, rapes and murders we see. They are without doubt horrific events but what is even more troubling to know is we are the ones who start the harming process. Imagine what could change in this world if we all just began one by one to take care of ourselves. I for one, will start now.

  17. ‘When we give from a place of neediness with the underlying intention to get something back, it is not actually a true expression of love but rather it is manipulation.’ Thank you anon. I used to observe the manipulation being played out in my family when I was young and sometimes reacted to it. Only later did I realise that I too used manipulation and in the way that you describe, like dealing. I thought I also could deal with God. Now I know this is impossible. A true relationship with ourselves, with God, with anyone has no expectations, investment sympathy or need.

    1. Yes, I too can relate to manipulating people without openly acknowledging I was doing that. There is a large slice of humble pie needed and a change of movements to not repeat the pattern.

  18. “Without needs, without expectations, a true relationship can blossom: based on the true relationship that we’ve taken the time to nurture with ourselves, first!” accepting responsibility for our own lives and committing to lovingly caring for ourselves is essential for a true relationship to develop. needs and expectations are eliminated which leads to a much more honest and open relationship.

  19. Absolutely! ‘What I have discovered (or uncovered), through simply being willing to feel deeply, is that I have, in fact, chosen to be in abusive relationships all my life… and that the abuse was not first and foremost coming from anyone ‘out there’ but rather, it has been first and foremost coming from… ME!’ Even though we may not want to feel this it is the truth … how much do we truly love and care for ourselves accepting zero abuse towards ourselves in how we live in every single moment. And you are right we have created a very skewed message of what love actually is. Time to take a few steps back to feel this.

  20. I feel personally that when we can stop blaming others for the way life is and start looking at the possibility that we through the way we live everyday has contributed to the standard of living we have today, then we can start to heal ourselves and in the healing it seems to me that there is a re balancing effect of life and others start to become aware of how they are behaving and so the micro expands to the macro of life and that’s to me is how true change happens.

  21. How easy it is to see ‘better’ as a reprieve from abuse when in fact we may still be in the thick of it, just a lessor or alternate form.

  22. The true and loving relationship we have with God and our Soul is the only relationship that would be sufficient and it is true that we are in many abusive relationships in life and if we really feel this gap and honor what we feel, we would know what the next step is. This is a very humbling process but a necessary one.

  23. Awesome blog Anon, it is crazy that this form of abuse the venting of frustration, the stonewalling is so rampant it is accepted as normal.

  24. It takes a lot of honesty and self-awareness to feel that we attract abuse. There is a lot of investment in being the victim, as you don’t have to change and its all the abusers fault. What we don’t often realise is that like a key in a lock, the abuser needs the victim to play their role. Without that, the key doesn’t fit.

  25. It’s fantastic Anon that you’ve taken the time to unpack abuse. For most of us, abuse is an extreme that sits on the domestic violence or rape or war end of the spectrum but as you’re pointed out it’s a myriad of behaviours, thoughts and actions… anything less than love.

  26. There are so many conditions that we hold onto within relationships that others have to meet when we come loaded with our insecurities and needs. We can be so irresponsible with others by imposing and also holding back our fullness, and it is at those times that we have lost who we are and are pulled into the needy demands of the energies at play with us and aren’t able to reflect our natural amazingness. And yes, anything other than love is abuse.

  27. In relationships we have the opportunity to develop a way of being together that is continuously deepening in the expansion of who we both are.

  28. We can really think that we are the victims in life, it takes real courage, honesty and rawness to take a look at where we are in fact the perpetrators. Abuse does not come in one flavour, it is not always violent, aggressive etc, it can be imposing, controlling and slippery and pretty much all of us choose to be abusive in some way and some time in our lives. If we are not living from love than we are not expressing love.

  29. When patterns of behaviour keep coming back time and time again, reflected in the many different relationships we have in our lives, and we feel we are the victim of behaviours or situations then at some point we should realise there is a point of evolution waiting for us. An opportunity to take the lead and be the change we want to see in our relationships.

  30. And the only way to truly heal this cycle of abuse that seems to go on lifetime after lifetime is to truly know oneself, to connect with the core of our being, and to understand the deep and profound healing one has to undertake to become whole and one again

  31. “Love is actually who we are! And it is our responsibility to hold, honour, cherish and nurture that quality in ourselves, moment-to-moment and day-to-day.” So true Anon. Why aren’t we taught this basic fact from a very early age? How can we have great relationships with others if we don’t first have a beautiful relationship with ourselves first?

  32. “Without needs, without expectations, a true relationship can blossom: based on the true relationship that we’ve taken the time to nurture with ourselves, first!” This brings me to ask the question, so what is the point of having a relationship in the first place? What are my intentions here? I know I lack deep appreciation for number one, firstly and this, I feel, is where it all starts. No-one can give you anything that you haven’t already given yourself first.

  33. We have become accustomed to abuse meaning someone physically hitting another or being psychologically abusive, but abuse can come in many forms, and in ways that most of us would not see as abusive.

  34. Anon, ‘what I hadn’t read, or rather taken FULL responsibility for, was how I was being and expressing in every moment.’ I can relate to this, it is easy to blame others and to notice their unloving ways of being and focus on these rather than bringing the focus back to us and to honestly and with understanding looking at how we are being.

  35. It is an important point to make that abuse can come in many forms, and so even though there may not be screaming or hitting, there can still be a sense of attack against one another, and this is something that hurts and that gets in the way of love being expressed.

  36. Whoa! This makes things very interesting if we consider that if we are not loving and honouring ourselves that this is abuse. I can really feel how true this actually is and how it plays out in life.

  37. It starts with self-abuse and our unwillingness/inability to admit that a lot of our so-called ‘normal’ behaviours are in fact self-abusive. For example: when a child is tired and we refuse to let them go to sleep but forcefully keep them up we would call that abuse and sleep deprivation. But we so easily do this to ourselves, pushing ourselves past the point of enough is enough and often right into exhaustion if not a diagnosable illness. What’s the difference?

  38. Relationships always start with self first, building self love and care so we have a strong foundation to bring to our other relationships.

  39. “Have I moved gently in a way that honors my body deeply? Not always. Not even most of the time” – so valid and so true.. the more you understand love, the more you understand the extent and cycle of the abuse you’re actually in every single day.

  40. The moment we lower our personal standard of quality we allow it from everyone around us, hence abuse starts first with how we treat ourselves.

  41. This is a great blog as it outlines a way out of the cycle of abuse through the sharing of the writer’s own lived experience . . . an experience that many can relate to.

  42. Relationships are a great opportunity for us to define our principles of life, what we will stand for and what we will not stand for and also what we will contribute to and what we won’t contribute to, it’s a great opportunity to take a much deeper level of responsibility for all our actions.

  43. A powerful letter to us all – regardless of our ‘partnership status’. It calls out the level of abuse we have accepted in our society and invites us to draw a new line in the sand and that it needs to start with ourselves first.

  44. More and more I have started to realise that anything less than love is abuse, ‘The fact is that anything less than LOVE is actually abuse…’

  45. “What I have discovered (or uncovered), through simply being willing to feel deeply, is that I have, in fact, chosen to be in abusive relationships all my life… and that the abuse was not first and foremost coming from anyone ‘out there’ but rather, it has been first and foremost coming from… ME!” This is very powerful to read and really all I can do is nod my head and say it was the same for me. Through making simple daily choices to change this and bring care and love into my relationship with myself this abuse of myself has ceased. Loving relationships start with having a loving relationship with ourselves.

  46. We can be so quick to judge and condemn another without taking responsibility for the way we are with ourselves and others 1st. It is up to us to set the example and lead with what we know is truth and love and thus set the standard otherwise it is as if we have 2 standards one for everyone else to live up to and another one for us to do what we want!

  47. When we consider that love does not compromise, many ways in which we relate to each other are now exposed for the abuse they are…but are we ready for this level of exposure?

  48. The relationships we choose are by-and-large the reflection of the choices we have made in relation to how we walk in life. They make sense within the context of movement we are already engaged in.

  49. Anon, I can feel how easy it is to focus on someone else’s behviours rather than looking at how we are being in the relationship, this self awareness feels key; ‘what I hadn’t read, or rather taken FULL responsibility for, was how I was being and expressing in every moment.’

  50. The moment we stop taking full responsibility for our part we go into right and wrong and lose our ability to observe what is true in the whole sense of what that truly means.

  51. Like many words, the word abuse has change over time whereby now most would consider abuse to be violence. We don’t even commonly call bullying abuse, which is what it is. But that’s only the surface and the extremes. There are much more subtle levels of abuse that we tolerate. Initially we need to look at how we are with ourselves in all things. For any shred of self-abuse leave the door open for subtle and possibly not so subtle levels of abuse in relationships.

  52. It is interesting how, when we do express in an understanding and lovely way, there can be no or at least very little room for old patterns to come in and to disrupt the relationship. Because ultimately, loveliness is simple and sweet and holds no one to ransom, it does not have expectations of any other, and it is content for simple divinity to be in the space between people. This is what I know and experience loveliness to be.

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