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Emotional Abuse: The Victim and Abuser


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.