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          Emotional Abuse: The Victim and Abuser

          August 28, 2002

          An emotionally abusive marriage consists of a victim and an abuser. Dr. Phil has something to say to both.

          The Abuser
          • Have you thought about how your actions truly affect your partner? Even when you stop the abuse, the pain continues because you’ve trampled on your loved one’s heart and spirit.
          • Dr. Phil defines an abuser as both a coward and a bully. You choose to abuse where it is safe, in a place where you feel loved and protected. Would you do it in the workplace where you might get fired or in a social situation where others might get insulted?
          • You need to understand that respect is commanded, not demanded. If you think degrading and belittling your partner commands respect, you’re wrong. You are simply demanding by imposing fear.
          • All abusers have excuses, says Dr. Phil. While the excuses vary, one principle remains: You are abusing instead of being constructive.
          • If you want to recover — for yourself and your partner — you need to tell yourself: “I’m not going to take this from me anymore.” Sit down with your partner, look into his/her eyes, and apologize for the wounds you’ve inflicted over time.
          • Healing is a process. Rescuing your relationship will take patience and persistence. 
          The Victim
          • Take responsibility. You have played a role in setting up the relationship this way, and you must play a role in changing it. Telling your partner that the treatment is unacceptable is not enough. Your actions speak louder than words, so you need to make two bold moves: Change your own routine or behavior, and tell your partner you will no longer take the abuse.
          • Dr. Phil refers to a saying: “There are no victims, only volunteers.” Don’t go along to get along. Peace at any price is no peace at all.
          • Relationships are always up for renegotiation. You need to sit down with your partner, look him/her in the eyes, and tell him/her that you are taking a stand. You will not stay in the relationship if the abuse continues. From there, begin to negotiate. Figure out how both of you can take strides to make the marriage work.
          • Watch yourself to make sure you don’t fall back into the victim role. 
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