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Understanding and Resolving The Cycle Of Abuse

 

Do you find yourself returning to the same abusive relationships time and again or choosing abusive partners over and over?  Do you find yourself returning to your parents all the time seeking advice, guidance, validation or support, only to be continually disappointed?  You likely have poor self-esteem and you are likely quite emotionally vulnerable.  Here's why and what you can do.

 

Self-esteem is an outcome of being valued by our parents when we were growing up.  Our self-esteem is actually rooted as far back as our parentsí mate selection.  Hopefully, our parents chose each other believing each possessed the appropriate emotional maturity and practical skills necessary to rear a child.  Beyond that, our being valued by our parents is demonstrated by reasonable prenatal care, planning for childbirth, postnatal care and the ongoing efforts to meet our needs in a caring and loving environment.  As we are consistently and reasonably loved and cared for, we develop a sense of security and value in ourselves. 

 

In the absence of our parentsí emotional investment in us and/or their lack of appropriate care, or worse, our exposure to neglect, abuse, or harm, we may have an incomplete sense of security, value and worth.  In view of an incomplete sense of security, value and worth, we are insecure and may inadvertently spend considerable time and energies seeking the validation and sense of worthiness we never received.  Further and without a sense of worthiness we may come to accept relationships and circumstances that unfortunately only contribute to greater worthlessness.  In the face of this greater worthlessness we yet may engage in more self-defeating attempts at validation from those incapable of reasonably meeting our needs.  Thus, a conundrum is created in that the more we try to meet our needs through persons less capable of providing for our needs, the more harm befalls us.

 

The person who has unmet needs to be reasonably valued from before childhood and on, may have impaired judgment when it comes to their own mate selection and sources of validation.  These persons require support to endure their insecurity as they learn to set boundaries, discriminate between reasonable and unreasonable partners, and learn to meet their own needs.

 

By way of example, lack of being valued or validation creates a thirst to quench the dry well of insecurity. 

 

Imagine a woman setting out across the desert with no water.  Eventually she is overcome by the sun's heat and an increasing thirst.  With her clothes in tatters she pulls herself through the sand looking for an oasis.  In the distance are palm fronds.  This gives hope to her, now almost dying of thirst and from that hope springs a desire to drag herself to the oasis.  Now at the oasis she comes across a small shallow pool of liquid.  Without thinking and with a need to quickly quench the driving thirst, she submerges her head into the shallow pool and sucks back the liquid.  With the thirst barely quenched she can finally taste the liquid from which she seeks relief.  At that moment she realizes she is drinking camel urine. 

 

While camel urine may briefly sustain the thirst-quenched person in the desert, it hardly provides for lifelong sustenance.  With this story, hopefully it is understandable how vulnerability can lead to self-defeating solutions.

 

The strategy to overcome these circumstances is to seek new supports typically from agencies or professional persons trained to help people sustain themselves in an emotional drought whilst they learn to take care of themselves and fill their own reservoir in the company of other nurturing individuals who take legitimate interest in others for the sake of the other's well-being.

 

If this article rings true for you and you wish to change the direction of your life and circumstance, seek counseling.  You may find that that counseling is best delivered through agencies or individuals who are trained and have a working knowledge in helping people who have been subject to abuse or neglect.  Given a history of abuse where you may not have been appropriately nourished, there are few things as satisfying as learning to nourish yourself to then make more reasonable choices for love and affiliation with other people who themselves are truly caring.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  

gary@yoursocialworker.com

www.yoursocialworker.com 
 
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.

 

Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.

 

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For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.

 

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20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com