They may become so remorseful and upset, crying: I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I just did that. I don’t want it to turn out like my father who was violent.
You start to feel sorrier for them, more than for yourself and the abuse you’ve just suffered.
They’re testing your boundaries. If you accept their promises to never do that again, they’ll know they’ve got away with it and can do it again.
The cycle of abuse has begun.
The highs you have with them can be so wonderful and intense, you feel amazing. But, it’s followed by this tension that builds until something triggers them to explode.
The lows get lower, the highs fewer and further between.
You’re always chasing that high, trying to find that good person again. You change your behavior, even more, believing if you do, you can get that nice side of them again.
You’re forever trying to change, fix things, and make peace again.
All the while, they are stripping you of your self-esteem. To the point where you start to believe you’re worthless.
They convince you that you deserve this abuse, that it’s your fault.
You start to accept more than your fair share of responsibility for that relationship. You are taking responsibility for their actions and behavior. They’re blaming you and you’re starting to believe them.
The Cycle of Abuse is Hard to Break From
This cycle of abuse is pervasive and hard to break free from. Not least because they also use manipulative tactics such as:
1. Gaslighting – where they tell you that you imagined their abuse. You’re too sensitive or you’re exaggerating it.
2. Mirroring – where they project onto you their own toxic behavior. They say you’re the one creating drama when it’s them.
This is manipulative behavior.
By the time you realize you’re in an abusive relationship, your self-esteem is so low. It’s almost impossible to find the courage to leave.
You’ve also become dependent on them. Your abuser has made you feel so low, yet they can lift you back again with one hug and the words:
I’m so sorry, I love you.
This is what you are longing for and need to make you feel better. They trap you in this distorted and dysfunctional cycle of abuse. The person abusing you is the only person who can make you feel good again.
If any of this sounds familiar to you then I would urge you to get out. The longer you stay in the cycle of abuse the harder it is to leave.
I know because I’ve been there. Leaving an abusive relationship was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
Get help and support because you can’t do it alone.
A lot of us stay in that cycle of abuse because we believe the loving person we always see after the abuse is the real them. They’re not this nasty abuser. It’s not their fault.
If we can just love them more, prove to them we are worthy, then we’ll get that wonderful person. They will love me and everything will be okay.
It’s a false hope and a false promise. You will only go on chasing that elusive first high you felt. It will never feel as high again.
We are also hoping for closure. For them to admit their bad treatment of us, accept responsibility and blame for it. Tell us they’re going to get help and are finally going to change.
You could be waiting forever for that to happen. You could also end up dying.
Two women are murdered every week by an intimate partner. Men are the victims of abuse too.
If you are in this cycle of abuse, please get help and support to get out now. The longer you stay, the harder it will be to find freedom.
Written by Vivian McGrath Originally appeared on Vivian McGrath