October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Bullying Awareness Month. Most people are aware of overt violence and bullying, such as hitting, pushing, slapping, kicking and bruising someone. In recent news, there was a perfect example of this kind of violence; a local woman in Gig Harbor, WA died as a result of her partners physical abuse.
While the Gig Harbor womans story is blatently tragic, there is another more hidden and psychologically damaging violence between intimate partners. This type of violence has no bruises and therefore is not considered a legal offence. However, the damage done to a person's sense of self can be quite profound. It is called interpersonal or relational violence.
This type of violence is very subtle and often times the victim doesn't know she/he has been played by the controlling person's manipulation. In my counseling office, I hear the words "I don't know who I am anymore," "I'm so confused" or "I don"t have this problem with anyone else in my life." As their story unfolds, the "victim" has relayed to me that they don't trust themselves anymore and that if they did feel something was not right, they would ignore their gut instincts.
They also state they have "trusted their partner with everything and assumed their partner had their best interest at heart." Now, I am not saying that you should not trust your partner but I would encourage you to only trust a trustworthy person. Trust is something that needs to be earned. Blindly trusting someone may and often does lead to betrayal, so it may be wise to protect your heart.
Trust is something that needs to be earned by consistently backing up words with behavior. You should be able to rely on your partner to follow through with what they said they would do. For example, you and your partner agree that tomorrow he will take out the trash and that you will do the laundry. If either of you don't do the agreed upon task, it breaks trust within your agreement.
If you follow through with your task and he blows off the garbage, he has just broken trust with you. He did not back up his words with action. Occasionally, we do need to make accommodations for extenuating circumstances. However, if there is a consistent pattern of extenuating circumstances, now you have broken trust and an untrustworthy partner. 6 Ways To Feel Secure As A Couple [EXPERT]
So how do you know if you have fallen prey to this subtle form of abuse? It is helpful to start paying attention to your feelings and emotions. If you tune into your body, you will gain clues to help you discover if your partner is trustworthy or not. The easiest way to tell is to ask yourself, "Do I feel emotionally safe with my partner?"
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