Recovering From Emotionally abusive relationship often involves a person with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Emotionally Abusive Relationships often are with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The main characteristic of this kind of personality disorder is that the person becomes very controlling in an attempt to avoid being rejected. Rejection is the greatest fear of someone with BPD.
Emotional Abuse Relationships have these characteristics:
- In the beginning the person thinks you are perfect and professes love for you that they have “never felt before for anyone” They alternate between this state and rage at you. When they are in the rage state you rationalize their behavior by telling yourself how loving and adoring they can be and your longing for that keeps you in the relationship. They will give you just enough of that to keep you around. That adoring behavior is very powerful and addictive because they have an uncanny ability to read you and therefore can make you feel “seen” maybe for the first time in your life. As good as this feels, it is a sign that you are with a person with BPD.
- The other person demands that you to put aside your needs to tend to their needs and no matter how much you give, it’s never enough. Then they criticize you for not doing enough to fulfill their needs using verbal assaults belittling, screaming, threatening, humiliating you. They use fear to control you threatening to end the relationship . You start to feel helpless and trapped.
- Being constantly put down and accused of doing things you never did, yet when you try to leave the relationship they will try to keep you there by declaring love or threatening you.
- You can never plan or count on social engagements because the person will change the plan or refuse to go at the last minute.
- The other person reacts differently at different times to the same behavior that you exhibit.
The one thing that a BPD (border personality disorder) person needs the most is for their partner to set clear and definite limits. When a partner enforces these boundaries, it helps the partner to become more confident and the BPD person to feel safer, by knowing how far they can go. The limits actually help people feel safe because it teaches them how to behave so that they aren’t rejected. An abusive relationship cannot continue when the partner maintains clear and strong limits as to what is acceptable behavior.
In order to know if you are in an abusive relationship, one must first be aware of these warning signs.
Stages of an Abusive Relationship
1) The honeymoon stage- you experience limerence which lasts 3 months to a few years. In this stage you are obsessed and infatuated by your partner.
2) The obsessively controlling stage- the BPD will cut you off from family, friends and hobbies (anything you enjoy on your own). This is because the BPD’s biggest fear is being left. She/he will see all your friends and interests as competition for your attention and love.
3) The BPD will become more desperate to control you and will make threats, both to commit suicide or to harm you or your family members, if you threaten to leave.
Abusive Relationship Recovery for the partner
Treatment for partner recovery is best initiated by trauma work. I use EMDR which is very effective to get the victim connected to their resources again.
The partner of a person with Borderline Personality Disorder is traumatized from living with the behavior and manipulation techniques used to attempt to control them and keep them form leaving.
Emotional abuse is like brainwashing- it systematically wears away the victim’s sense of self worth, and trust in their perceptions. If this feels like your relationship, please get the help of a therapist or life coach who is experienced in dealing with an abusive relationship.
There is Hope for moving forward
Many people rind themselves involved with a BPD because they are very charming and make you feel very desired and loved …at first. It is natural and healthy to want to be loved. They have an acute ability to tune in on the very things a person is most vulnerable about. They use this in the beginning to get close to you and then later to threaten and control you.
In the Meantime the best thing to do:
In order to protect yourself from abuse you must set and maintain clear boundaries. Tell your BPD partner that you will not tolerate a particular behavior and that the next time they try it you will leave the house . The leaves the BPD with 2 choices, either loose you or get help. If you are afraid of inciting violence when you do this, then you need to have a heart to heart talk with yourself asking yourself why you are there.
Another effective approach is DBT…
There is now a therapy modality that is very effective in helping a person heal from BPD. It is called DBT and I work with several therapists who get excellent results in healing a person with BPD if the person is willing to make a commitment and do the work in therapy that is involved.
If a person is willing to make a sincere commitment to therapy and stick with it for at least a year, there is a very good chance that healing can happen. I have a colleague who specializes in DBT and has had much success working with BPD. Let me know if I can help in this way.
Common questions people ask me are:
Am I crazy or sick to be with a BPD? The answer is NO. You are probably just a nice and trusting person (maybe co dependent). BPD’s are drawn to trusting people because they know that they can be more easily manipulated.
Although you are not the sick one you do need to learn to nurture your inner child self so that you are not so vulnerable to flattery. When you have a strong inner self you can more easily see and resist manipulation and flattery. You are also able to be objective about other people because you don’t need them to be a certain way. You will start to notice when people lie or have no empathy for other human beings. These are the major signs of a BPD.
As part of your recovery you will discover why you attracted this type of person. You will then be able to start to heal yourself fo that you can have the healthy relationships that you deserve.