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Dynamics of Abusive Relationships

Shedding Light on the Dynamics of Abusive Relationships

WARNING: This article may be triggering for some people

It is a cycle of “kiss me, kill me, kiss me again”. The dynamics of abusive relationships can come down to a simple response: the abuser is driven by insecurity, which is fed by fear …and the expectation of inconsistency (whether real or perceived).

The abuser’s insecurity stems from little sense of their own social value, hence they make an effort to gain/regain this through control and domination. There are two reasons for this insecurity: fear of appearing weak, and fear of not being loved. The irony here, then, is that the abuser is in fact weak which is why they feel the need to control. The abuser is also inconsistent when giving attention to keep the victim subjected to dominion. The victim is just as morbidly insecure – and surprisingly, for the same reasons.

They have little sense of their own social value, hence, they make up for it by losing themselves to the demand for submission. The fear feeding this huge insecurity is also not being loved; and so they accept the abuser’s inconsistent attention –all for the sake of being accepted and loved.

The pathological need to control (abuser) and pathological need for attention (victim) is a match made in heaven. They feed each other’s fears and feeding ON these same fears. All of us are a band of neurotic habits that’s seeking a fit with our opposites to create a psychological balance. Sadly, abusive relationships are an extreme case of this human dynamics. *

A fair warning to those just starting out, instant intimacy is typically followed by disillusion: tread with care. Abusers are good at zeroing in (and preying on) vulnerability.


In an abusive relationship, one is treated as being less valuable than the other. Their interests, desires, and needs are subordinated to those of the abuser.

  • Neglect: withholding attention/affection

  • Physical: biting, kicking, hitting, pushing, grabbing, pulling hair, blocking exits, destroying precious objects/property

  • Emotional: threats, name-calling, mind-games

  • Financial: closing accounts without consent, putting partner in debt, giving allowances (which then infantilizes the partner)

Abuse is patterned –not episodic. The “normal” things that happen between ‘episodes’ are what’s keeping the victim lured into the pattern of violence. What exists in between? Gifts, apologies, promises, quick fixes. **


Remember, emotional abuse is often subtle –and can be very hard to detect because of this. If it’s hard for you to see it, stop and think how your interactions with this person make you feel. Do you feel worthless, depressed, anxious, confused, misunderstood, frustrated, or wounded? Chances are your relationship is emotionally abusive.

The signs you need to watch out for are:

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Examples: make unreasonable demands of you, expect you to drop everything & meet their needs, expect you to share the same opinions as they, demand you spend all your time together

2. Invalidate You

Examples: dismiss, undermine or distort your perceptions/reality, refuse to accept your feelings by trying to impose/define how you should feel, accuse you of being ‘too emotional’ or ‘too sensitive’, dismiss your needs & wants as ridiculous

3. Create Chaos

Examples: make contradictory/confusing statements, start arguments for the sake of arguing, nitpick your hair/looks/clothes/work, have drastic mood changes/sudden emotional bursts

4. Use Emotional Blackmail

Examples: humiliate you in public, manipulate you by making you feel guilty, use your hot buttons (values, compassions, fears) to control you/the situation, punish you by giving you the silent treatment

5. Act Superior

Examples: blame you for their mistakes, attempt to prove you wrong, doubt everything you say, talk down to you, make jokes at your expense, use sarcasm when interacting with you, act like they’re always right/smarter & know what’s best

6. Control & Isolate You

Examples: control who you see/spend time with (including family &friends), accuse you of cheating, being jealous of outside relationships, monitor your texts & social media, demand to know your whereabouts at all times, take/hide your car keys, treat you like possession/property, coerce you into spending all your time together, criticize/make fun of your friends, co-workers & family, control the finances ***

Fear is the real driving factor in abusive relationships. Because the abuser is limited in their social perspective and see things only from an egocentric standpoint, they lash out when they find no other options to gain control. They had not developed a sense of ethnocentric compassion, or genuine concern/care for others. On one hand, the victim is an emotional anorexic. Allowing themselves to starve, they then gorge whatever attention comes their way –and later feel guilty after realizing they didn’t deserve the treatment they received. The state of mind that seems to drive this neediness is: needing, but not having; receiving, but not wanting it; and needing again. Too often, the sense of familiarity and comfort in an abusive relationship is also why victims return/stay with their abusive partner. And, when they do leave, will unconsciously seek out the same. Victims thrive on the familiarity of the cycle. *

Are you in an abusive relationship (whether with a partner, friend, family, or co-worker)? Seek professional help. We at Jarvis Hypnotherapy have the tools you need to get out of such relationships …and flourish.

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