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

730 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.

  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.

  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.

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